And justice for all? Hardly

STEVE SIMMONS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 3:15 PM ET

NEWMARKET -- Michelle Pacheco, with tears still evident in her eyes, was escorted down the stairs of the court room and out the side entrance, honestly believing the worst was over.

She was 39 years old when the rental car Rob Ramage was driving collided with her head on. She is 43 now.

Who knows how old she will be when this case finally comes to conclusion.

But the victim nobody talks about -- the woman who screamed in her SUV: "I'm going to die" in December 2003 -- must again be part of a legal process she thought would end yesterday.

The case against Rob Ramage will not go away.

The four-year sentence and the multitude of convictions against Ramage for drunk driving causing the death of former NHL player Keith Magnuson will be appealed.

Yesterday, the court was cleared so that Ramage could be taken out privately in handcuffs, an unusual sign of respect and/or censorship. The former Maple Leafs captain spent the first few hours of his four-year sentence in lockup. Then, later in the day, he was freed to return to his St. Louis home until who knows when.

This was justice undone, justice left open to debate.

And even though York Region prosecutor Paul Tait thought "that justice was served" with the rather harsh four-year sentence of Ramage yesterday, in the end, which this isn't, all that was left were more questions to answer and the probability of another trial to ponder.

As excessive as the sentence appeared -- and many were shocked by the length, particularly the bevy of Ramage's hockey playing buddies in attendance -- the thought of another trial, one probably at least a year away, seems absolutely unjust.

It is not so comically reminiscent of an old Rodney Dangerfield joke, asking the grammatical question: "What comes after a sentence?"

Answer: "An appeal."

The joke was funny, just not yesterday.

Esteemed lawyer Brian Greenspan already had filed on Monday his intent to appeal the conviction. And when Ontario Superior Court Justice Alexander Sosna announced his four-year sentence of Ramage, the challenge grew that much deeper: Greenspan was now taking on both the sentence and the conviction.

When asked to explain the time frame involved with the possibility of a new case, Greenspan said, and not disrespectfully: "Same time, next year."

Greenspan believes the four-year length of sentence is "excessive ... regrettable and disappointing" and questions several points of law with regard to the appeal of the convictions.

While there appears to be temporary justice for Ramage and maybe the Magnuson family, who had asked that Ramage spend no time in prison, what justice is there for Pacheco, who has suffered a battery of injuries since the accident and admits to not being "the same?"

Ramage, for his part, gets to go home. He gets to be with his family. He probably goes back to his profession. For now, and until who knows, life returns to normal for a man sentenced to four years in prison and another five years without operating a vehicle.

The Magnuson family, having been awarded millions in an American civil suit against Ramage and others, gets, temporarily, what it was asking for.

But what about Pacheco, whom nobody seems to care much about, and was the only witness in the case who could clearly explain what went on? She must, once again, be asked to revisit the crash on Rutherford Rd., in court, the collision that in her own words "forever changed" her life.

Even in court yesterday, as Judge Sosna began to go over the details of the case before announcing his sentencing, he spoke at some length about Pacheco's testimony. Again, as she had on the witness stand, she broke down and cried.

The accident took place more than four years ago. The likely beginning of a new trial will be somewhere around the five-year anniversary of the crash.

One man is dead, one woman is injured and Rob Ramage, good player, good guy, drunk driver, is going home.


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