Law professor calls for inquiry into hit-man case
Nicole Doucet Ryan charged with counselling an undercover police officer to kill her husband
A professor at Dalhousie University's law school is calling for a judicial inquiry into the case of Nicole Doucet Ryan, the school teacher who tried to hire a hit man to kill the husband she said was abusing her.
Archie Kaiser, a professor at the Schulich School of Law, said it's important for someone to sift through all the different sides of the story to get to the truth.
"The highest and best standard is that done by a judge who would hear witnesses under oath and who would examine these issues thoroughly, make findings of fact and make any recommendations as to improvement of services that might be required in the circumstances," he said Tuesday.
"The fact that these were not matters that were thoroughly investigated at trial is of concern."
Doucet, as she is now known, was arrested in March 2008 and charged with counselling an undercover police officer to kill her husband, Michael Ryan, who was accused in court documents of threatening to kill her and her daughter.
The case attracted national attention last month when the Supreme Court of Canada ordered a stay of proceedings in the Nova Scotia woman's case, saying it would be unfair to subject her to a new trial.
Since then, several parties in the case have spoken out.
Different sides, different stories
Immediately after the Supreme Court of Canada decision, an emotional Doucet told reporters she was "relieved" but still afraid for her safety and that of her 12-year-old daughter Aimee.
The girl has been living with her father — Michael Ryan — in Ontario since he was granted sole custody.
Ryan also spoke out and said the courts branded him a "violent, abusive and controlling husband" who subjected his wife to a "reign of terror" without ever giving him a chance to refute those allegations in a courtroom.
Although Ryan had been subpoenaed, the Crown said his testimony wasn't needed to refute Doucet's defence of duress because she admitted to committing the offence and trying to hire a hit man.
Meanwhile, RCMP in Nova Scotia dismissed criticism from the Supreme Court of Canada, which said in its decision that it "seems the authorities were much quicker to intervene to protect Mr. Ryan than they had been to respond to her request for help in dealing with his reign of terror over her."
The commanding officer for the RCMP in the province said last week that the suggestion the police will not respond to domestic violence couldn't be "farther from the truth."
Kaiser said if the RCMP got it wrong, the public needs to know.
Unusual situation, says Kaiser
"The question would be whether the police services and other administration of justice services that Ms. Doucet received during the time that she allegedly complained about criminal incidents matched the standards that the public has a right to expect in terms of protecting women in situations like that," he said.
"Right now, according to several levels of court, they did not and it is essential that these matters be investigated in order to determine whether the allegations are true. If they are, then obviously heads need to roll and improvements need to be made. If they're not, then the public may well be reassured that women in situations such as Ms. Ryan faced are adequately protected."
Kaiser also said the ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada not to try Doucet again is one he finds unusual.
"I don't think it's convincing," he said.
"In the normal course of events, this case would have gone back to trial, there would've been the opportunity for a fuller explanation if appropriate or had the elements been proved without a defence, it would've been a sentencing case."
Nova Scotia's Liberal Opposition party has called on the province to set up an inquiry but Justice Minister Ross Landry has said he won't be ordering an outside review.