Toronto Sun

Thursday, December 20, 2001

New court may ease pressures

Speed key in violence cases

By BRIAN GRAY, Toronto Sun

A domestic violence court could have eased the emotional pressures on couples like Ralph and Gillian Hadley, a government lawyer told an inquest into their murder-suicide.

Daniel Mark, a lawyer with Ontario's ministry of the attorney general, said yesterday the specialized courts -- now operating in 16 areas around the province -- can reduce the tension that builds up during a prolonged wait for a trial.

"We know that in cases of domestic violence, the longer a case takes, the more difficult it is to prosecute," Mark told the inquest into the June 2000 murder-suicide.

Ralph Hadley was charged in January 2000 with assaulting Gillian and, a month later, for criminally harassing her. He was free on bail when he killed her, then himself.

The domestic violence court started as a pilot project in Toronto and North York and was expanded in the spring to other areas, including Hamilton, Ottawa and Halton Region.

"There's no magic in that courtroom," Mark said. "It's not about the court, it's about what goes on behind the scenes."

With eight more domestic violence courts set to open next year, Mark believes the 24 sites are unparalleled in the country.

"I don't think there's another province investing in these kind of resources," he told the inquest.

The inquest continues today.

Copyright © 2001, Canoe Limited Partnership.