Whatchu doing with our rights, virgin radio?

Author:Izadi, Melody

How a Toronto-based radio station makes light of the presumption of innocence, every week.

One of the cornerstones of our justice system is the presumption of innocence. It's a constitutionally protected right that is supposed to guarantee an individual all the blessings and grandeur of 'innocent until proven guilty.' In reality, that's rarely the perspective that people have--unless of course you're a criminal defence lawyer.

Most people--the public and news media alike--often assume that anyone who has been arrested must be guilty. Otherwise, why on earth would they have been arrested? Cue Guy Paul Morin reel.

Assuming that every accused person is guilty is not only problematic and adverse to our constitutional principles, but when it's perpetuated by the media, it becomes a cringe-worthy and embarrassing display of the lack of appreciation and knowledge many have for this fundamental principle of justice.

On Virgin Radio's 99.9 in Toronto, there is a segment entitled "Whatcha doing at the courthouse?" that's played during the Tucker in the Morning daily radio show. Essentially, a radio host stands outside a Toronto courthouse, and asks individuals walking in and out of the courthouse what they're doing there. The host asks about the nature of the charges individuals are facing, and then proceeds to asks questions such as:

What did the cop say to you when he came to the window? What were you caught with? So crack was the next logical step? Can you tell me the whole story: I'm fascinated by this? You know these people (referring to the complainants)? So how did you get caught? How did they find out that you were in possession? So your suspended license from 5 years ago gave them cause to search your car for anything else? Did you know you had [drugs] in there? Did you say anything before they started searching you? How did you find out that they found something? These are questions a lawyer should be asking these people in private. Instead, this radio host is compromising the strength of people's criminal cases that are presently before the courts for the sole purpose of radio entertainment, and presumably ratings. Almost every time the host asks a question, embedded in the question is a presupposition that each individual was caught. The host seems to be blind to the concept of having a right to silence or the fact...

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