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John Rosen

John Rosen “In Defence of Paul Bernardo: Am I the Devil’s Advocate?

“Much has been written about the videotapes, the failure of the police to find them and the horrific nature of their contents. But nothing has ever been said about the impact of the tapes on the lawyers.

“After taking possession of the tapes, [Clayton] Ruby and I met at his home to view them for the first time. We played the VHS tapes so as not to damage the originals. We also fast-forwarded through most parts. Our intention was to get an understanding of what was depicted so we could assess my legal, professional and ethical obligations.

“In truth though, the images depicted shook me to the core. At one point, I needed to stop and excuse myself for a few moments. The images were deeply disturbing and the implications were obvious. How was I going to defend this case in the face of these tapes? What would prevent the jury from coming over the boards at me for having the gall to advance any defence for this accused? Moreover, I am a father myself – what would my own family think of me? How was I going to survive a trial with my health and reputation intact?

“I could have avoided my responsibilities by claiming I was a witness to the chain of custody of the tapes. But what would that have said about the 25 years of my life that, at that point in time, I had dedicated to the criminal law? After a moment’s hesitation, I decided to set aside my personal feelings and interests and get on with the job at hand.”

Excerpt from Tough Crimes: True Cases by Top Canadian Criminal Lawyers
© Durance Vile Publications Ltd., 2014