Judge labels testimony of accused inconsistent
The son of B.C. Premier Ujjal Dosanjh walked out of a Windsor court Monday a free man – found not guilty of causing a disturbance and assaulting a police officer.
Aseem Dosanjh fought back tears as he left the court, relieved to be able to resume his law career without the taint of a criminal conviction.
Dosanjh’s friend, Sanjit Parhar was also found not guilty of causing a disturbance. Both men were involved in a brawl outside a Windsor bar last April 29, after celebrating their graduation from the University of Windsor law school.
“I am very relieved this is over and I can get on with my life,” said Dosanjh. “This has been very stressful.”
Ontario Court Justice Harry Momotiuk ruled that he believed Dosanjh’s testimony that there was so much confusion during the scuffle that he didn’t know he was lashing out at a police officer.
Aseem Dosanjh’s father, B.C. Premier Ujjal Dosanjh was in British Columbia when the verdict was released.
“I feel like any parent would and I’m not going to say any more.”
Assessment of testimony
But the tension in the courtroom was electric as Momotiuk read his verdict. At first he was scathing in his assessment of testimony given by Dosanjh and Parhar and by their fellow law students who testified on their behalf.
He said their testimony lacked credibility, was filled with “inconsistencies and discrepancies” and that he gave it “limited weight” under the law.
Momotiuk told the court it was obvious defence witnesses – including Dosanjh – were trying to “out think their questions.”
Sparred with prosecution
Dosanjh, he said, was “argumentative with the prosecution as to what he had discussed with his friends about the incident,” and “continued to spar with the prosecution” eventually stating in frustration “Yes, that’s my evidence.”
The judge said this was also a case of a “bluff gone awry,” referring to Dosanjh’s testimony that he had hoped, after demanding to know whey “Mr. X” had struck Parhar inside the bar, that his six-foot-two, 220 lb. frame would intimidate the man. It didn’t work.
Momotiuk also said he found evidence given by two Windsor police officers to be credible.
The judge found them credible, he said, in light of the fact that bar fights have become more frequent in Windsor’s downtown at closing time.
He also gave great weight to testimony by Pogo’s bartender, Joseph O’Brien, who testified, “If police had not jumped into the fray, it would have been a full-scale war.”
Who actually caused the fight outside Cadillac Jack’s bar, said Momotiuk, was the real issue. “Did Dosanjh cause it by demanding to know why Mr. X punched Parhar inside the bar, or did Mr. X cause the fight by hitting Dosanjh after he asked the question.”
In summing up why he found the men not guilty, Momotiuk said it all came down to the difference between civil and criminal law.
“In civil law Dosanjh may have provoked the fight…but in criminal law, while he may have used poor judgement in demanding an answer from Mr. X, it was the punch thrown by X that caused the fight,” said Momotiuk.
Outside the court, defence lawyer Patrick Ducharme disagreed with Momotiuk’s assessment.
“With respect, I would like to think in our country when you ask a question you should not risk being attacked in a maniacal assault,” said Ducharme. “We are obviously pleased with the verdict. This has been a stressful time for them.”
Parhar, always standing out of the limelight created by Dosanjh being a provincial premier’s son, was anxious to get away.
“I’m thankful to Pat Ducharme and glad it’s behind me. I just want to get on with things,” said Parhar, who is articling with the law firm McDonald and Hayden in Toronto.
Assistant Crown attorney Nat Bernardon refused comment on Momotiuk’s decision.
Dosanjh is also grateful the case has been resolved before his father calls an election, anticipated in the spring.
“This has been very stressful for my family. I’ll be glad to get back home and put this behind me. It’s helped me develop a stronger stomach and is certainly an experience to grow and learn from,” said Dosanjh.
“I know some say Windsor is an armpit, but I think it’s a great city and I enjoyed my three years here in a great law school, I can’t say enough about them.”
Dosanjh returns to B.C. Thursday to resume articling with the Vancouver law firm, Watson, Goepel, Maledy.