The departure of the hunter of scammers
Photo Pierre-Paul Poulin
Me Jacques Dagenais was delivered to the Newspaper at the dawn of his retirement.
Saturday, December 23, 2017 01:00
Saturday, December 23, 2017 01:00
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Even though he had a busy career to convict the worst criminals and the greatest fraudsters, Me Jacques Dagenais is yet known for his humility. At the dawn of his retirement, the affable lawyer of 74-year-old has, however, agreed to come back on his 50 years of practice and his willingness to help now homeless.
Questions / Answers
You have started your practice in the civil law, 50 years ago. What is it that prompted you to launch yourself in a criminal case ?
Doing pro bono [volunteering], I had selected a folder in the criminal area, an area I do not know anything. And I have found it much more captivating that the practice of civil law, so well that I became a prosecutor in the Crown from 1970 to 1972. It is a story of personality. Then, in 1988, after leaving a manager position, I went back on the field as a simple prosecutor, at the bottom of the scale.
You have been a prosecutor before the arrival of the canadian Charter of rights and freedoms in 1982. How has it changed practice ?
At the time, the law was different, this is just to give the defense written statements. It was given at the last minute. Now, the Crown and the defence have exactly the same information.
The Charter has led to many standards for investigations, searches. It complicates the work, but it is a good thing. It is important to have a harmonious society. If our work is flawless, it leads to a respect for the institution.
The delays, however, have increased in half a century…
There is no comparison possible. Before, a folder with a foundation of one or two weeks, it was long. Now, a short backrest is heard for three or four weeks. In the 1970s, one case of murder was in a shirt cardboard. Then it became crates of evidence, then DVD, and now it is external hard drives. The slightest flaw or appearance of flaw [in the evidence] will be exploited.
What is the quality of the judges ?
I find that the quality of judges is now quite remarkable. In the 1970s, there were appointments as a reward policy, after a candidate had agreed to appear in a county loser. There were good judges with excellent morality, but other skills questionable. In our society, those who are appointed as judges must be the best.
Have you ever thought about becoming a judge ?
I’ve already been approached once, but I declined the offer. Otherwise, I have never applied. I find that I’m one of the most beautiful professions in the world. It is so varied, we encounter many different people. It is a profession exciting and the more extraordinary is that I was paid to do.
What is your proudest moment as an attorney ?
Every time I meet people, I talk to the witnesses, is to see that they come out with an esteem for our system of justice.
How do you see your retirement ?
I would really like to do volunteer work with the homeless. To force to see, it really is what comes to mind for me. Otherwise, to read books and do sports. I don’t have a major project, but I see retirement as a challenge.
A busy career
A few highlights of the career of Jacques Dagenais.
- Admitted to the bar in 1967
- Advisor to the director of the Montreal police
- Chief prosecutor on the Commission of inquiry on organized crime [CECO]
- Prosecutor-deputy chief of the Commission Malouf on the costs of the olympic Games
- Director of the application of the act to the Office of consumer protection
- Over the past 20 years, he has conducted a number of important issues as a Crown prosecutor
The guilty, not of the ” hunting trophies “
Jacques Dagenais has piloted a forty jury trials, including the first of the ex-chief of the Hells Angels Maurice ” Mom ” Boucher or those of Jacques Corriveau and Charles Guité for the sponsorship scandal. It is also him that has been ordered Jocelyn Dupuis, the former ceo of the FTQ-Construction guilty of defrauding its members.
But he has never been afraid to follow his convictions. For its latest trial for murder, he caused the surprise by asking for the proceedings to be stayed as the trial was nearing its end.
“Appearances were against the accused, but he appeared very troubling that supported his version, he explains to the Newspaper. If the prosecutor has a reasonable doubt, it is unthinkable that he would go further. “
This difficult decision to terminate the proceedings it has attracted even more respect from his peers. Me Dagenais has never counted the number of convictions it has obtained.
“These are not hunting trophies,” he says humbly.
The drug has contributed to clogging the courts
Over the years, he has found that the drug caused a lot of crime. When he started the Crown, the courts were relatively few folder of cocaine, crack or methamphetamine use. Fifteen years later, everything had changed.
“When I came back [to the Crown] in 1988, what struck me is that cocaine is everywhere,” he says.
And he saw regularly of drug addicts accused of crimes, because they tried to get the money to pay for their dose of drugs.
“It was among other people who were committing break-and-enter to make money. They could do two or three per day, five to ten per week. “
If he is sparing in his comments when he comes to speak of himself, Me Jacques Dagenais does not hesitate to champion the work of police officers, but also lawyers of the defense to which he dedicates a great deal of respect.
“These lawyers have a thankless job and difficult, but that needs to be done,” he said. They have a demanding job, with a clientele that is not always joyful, but who has the right to full answer and defence. “
Moreover he compares the defense lawyers of hockey goalkeepers, who must stop a maximum of washers in order to win the game.
The prosecutor also noted that, over the years, the work of the investigators, to solve the crimes, but also to accompany the victim throughout the judicial process.
“Some people see the failings of police, which are inevitable, but those who are supported by the police officers see the quality of their work, their empathy,” he said. I find it admirable to see how far they can go in order to facilitate the lives of the victims. “
A lawyer hard and respected by all
In a career spanning 50 years, the prosecutor Jacques Dagenais has managed to gain the respect of his colleagues in the Crown, but also the defence lawyers.
“He has always been fair, transparent, with a sense of ethics that all lawyers should have,” said a defence lawyer who has crossed the iron several times against him in cases of murder.
The lawyer, who requested anonymity in order not to antagonize its customers, does not hesitate to recognize the “hard work” of his opponent, and for the interest which he had always borne towards the victims and their families.
Me Natalie Brissette, chief prosecutor of the Montreal office, for its part, has touted the ability for “out of the ordinary” to Me Dagenais, as well as its competence in controlling a folder in a record time.