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March 18, 2004

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Judge throws out drunk driving case
CanWest News Service, March 7

A judge in Chilliwack has thrown out a drunk-driving case because a police officer insisted the suspect speak to a lawyer. Robert Hesketh was acquitted after his lawyer argued that forcing his client to speak to a lawyer when he didn't want one caused an unreasonable delay in administering the breathalyser tests that showed his client was impaired. “It is a very strange decision,” says Robert Gordon, director of SFU's school of criminology. “Normally, police officers would be chastised for failing to respect an offender's rights by denying them access to a lawyer when they've requested one. It does seem bizarre that (an officer) who went out of his way to try to get a lawyer for someone ends up being in trouble as a result.” The case to date has received little attention but there are signs it could be influential.

A cache of ancient bones
Toronto Star, March 6

Brent Ward went looking for an environmental time capsule that science said should lie hidden in a cave on the coast of Vancouver Island. The SFU earth sciences professor found his lode more than 40 metres inside a cave, buried beneath water and clay and preserved for roughly 16,000 years. Not an artificial capsule but a natural one, ancient sediments half a metre thick and chock-a-block with thousands of animal bones. These bones and pollen preserved in the sediment strengthen the argument that nomads from Asia could have migrated south by watercraft along the west coast of North America. Could southward migration have taken place before the ice age? “We had very little information about what the environment was like on the island before the glaciers covered it,” says Ward. The environmental time capsule provides some answers, painstakingly unearthed and interpreted by researchers.

Outside votes do count
CBC Current Affairs, March 6

On the eve of the Athens Olympics, Greece may be on the verge of major political change in the wake of a national election. The ruling socialist party is trailing slightly in the polls. The Conservative New Democracy party is promising smaller government and lower taxes. It looks like the election will be tight. So tight, both parties are wooing voters overseas. About 70,000 Greeks living in Europe and North America are expected to descend on their hometowns. SFU historian Andre Gerolymatos says, “In some regions of Athens, because half the population living in Greece lives in Athens, people coming from abroad can actually influence who would win, and some of the smaller areas where there are not as many electoral votes for the region means outside votes do count. And could swing the difference.”

Guilty on all counts
CBC News, March 5

Obstruction of justice, conspiracy, false statements. Is this a recipe for Martha Stewart's downfall? The homemaking maven is now a convicted criminal, not a good thing for her business. Her legal troubles have slowly eroded her multimedia empire. The challenge for Stewart's company: finding a way to put trust back in the products. “Martha Stewart's empire chose to use her as the icon. What's the down side? If your icon winds up with dirty feet and possibly a prison record, you've disastrously slammed all of your brands across all of your company,” says SFU marketing analyst Lindsay Meredith. The company has already begun launching new products, downplaying the Martha Stewart name. Analysts say it may be the only way to keep the empire she built from crumbling altogether.

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