a) Bottles of alcoholic liquors
b) Expert Péclet’s testimonies
Jacques Hébert is called to account once more. Justice Brossard found several untrue statements in his book I Accuse the Assassins of Coffin.
EXCERPT FROM THE BROSSARD REPORT
GENERAL CONCLUSIONS (2)
11. The Thompson incident was a hoax and not only from Thompson’s part; the deceitful story that Mr. Hébert grafted on the « hypothetical » trip of notary Moreau was also a hoax, but this one was an insult to several persons.
12. The intervention of the « Court of Last Resort » ended soon after having shown up; it was, with no valuable reason, blown up out of all proportion by newspapermen lacking objectivity or simply, respect for the truth.
It is falsely and without valuable reasons that ministers and high ranking officers of the Department of the Attorney General and of the Solicitor General of the province in office at the time of the murder, were accused.
a) As to pressure from abroad,
b) As to personal reasons for the choice of police officers in charge of the investigation,
c) As to the personal reasons for the choice of Crown attorneys,
d) As to personal and interested interventions in the conduct of the trial.
Almost all the reproaches and accusations against the Police and the Crown representatives turned out to be ill-founded; a few grievances, in small number, were partially true; no accusation was completely true.
A preponderant proof has established the falseness of the accusations with regard:
1. To an intervention from the Crown in the choice of one of Coffin’s attorneys;
2. To the illegal suppression of the proof;
3. To the instructions given by the Crown to certain witnesses to hide the truth in whole or in part;
4. To attempts of bribing witnesses;
5. To threats to prisoners to force them to testify;
6. To the brutality of the Police towards Coffin and other persons whom they questioned;
7. To captain Matte’s reputation of brutality and sadism;
8. To the suppression of a telegram of instructions sent to Coffin by his first lawyer;
9. To most of the information that was communicated concerning the presence of a jeep;
10. To the money that the victim Lindsey, senior, might have had in his possession at the time of the murder;
11. To captain Matte’s sinister and cynical attitude at the execution of Coffin;
12. To captain Matte’s plot to have Jack Eagle’s rifle removed by Mtre Raymond Maher;
13. To orgies at captain Matte’s and his wife’s cabin
14. To the threat of violence against J.G. Hamel;
15. To intentions injuriously attributed to the Crown, magistrates and jurors, as to J.G. Hamel’s conviction;
16. To statements attributed to judge J.L. Duguay;
17. To letters written by Coffin on the eve of his execution and intended to his family;
18. To the ignorance of the contents of Coffin’s affidavit by the federal Cabinet.
They were without any justification or excuse and not at all incited the insulting words of the author of « I Accuse the Assassins of Coffin » towards a certain number of administrators, Crown representatives and policemen; those numerous insults, violent and venomous are incomprehensible from an author who pretends to be keen on justice, unless it is a « pruritus » (itching) caused by an uncontrollable hatred for all that concerns the administration of justice and the authority; those insults, I have listed them; my hand refuses to write them again; I repeat that they are incomprehensible under the pen of a man who, otherwise, has proven before this Commission that he may be very courteous, except, sometimes, when he is contradicted or when he believes in a sinister police plot.
All this is even more regrettable because all that Mr. Hébert has written was not false or erroneous and that Mr. Héber might have, if he did not listen solely to his violent and destructive resentments, drawn the attention, with the necessary reservations and distinctions, on the weaknesses of our administrative system and on the demonstration of certain lawyers being conditioned by their profession.
The following reproaches and grievances were, according to the preponderance of the proof, in part well founded :
1. The one about the police having not carried sufficiently its investigation in the case of the jeep seen by the Tapps and the Dumaresqs, not anymore than in the case of Vincent Patterson;
2. The one about the Crown having misinterpreted and exercised its discretionary power regarding the proof that it did not judge relevant in the same cases, and in not bringing it to the attention of the defence so that it may have done what it deemed useful
3. The one about the secret removal of Jack Eagle’s rifle by one of Coffin’s attorneys;
4. The one about the apparent lack of interest from the Crown to investigate the disappearance of the rifle in Mtre Maher’s direction.
5. The one about the inadequacy of the Percé courthouse to insure the complete isolation of the members of the jury.
If Mr. Hébert had not relied so carelessly on the writings of certain of his colleagues, newspapermen and on the information from a former policeman blinded by his rancour and did not stop in adding to it the inaccuracies or falsenesses, if he had not, in such a tenacious way, favourably considered one certain defender of Coffin solely because it might help him in the support of his thesis on the abolition of capital punishment, doubtlessly, would he have discovered, like us, that an erroneous interpretation of professional duties, a professional conditioning that tends to consider success above the respect of truth, and maybe also a vain glory that induces to indiscretions of bad taste, are often misguiding and the source of harmful errors to justice, Mr. Hébert might have realized, like us, that certain provisions of our Coroner act may become a source of injustice for an accused and that certain provisions regarding the jurors have to be clarified. He did not want this or did not bother with it; he preferred resorting to unjustified abuse and insults. I have, with regret, to recognize that fact and inform you about it.
COFFIN’S TRIAL WAS NOT AN INJUSTICE. “THE COFFIN AFFAIR” WAS ONE: SEVERAL PERSONS CONTRIBUTED TO THE PERPETRATION OF THIS INJUSTICE.
This affair had nothing to rejoice those whom by their intellectual and moral qualities strive to maintain a tradition of dignity and grandeur with the Bar Association and journalism. .
May the realization of the evil that it might have caused unjustly to individuals, wounded in their honour and reputation, the shadow that it might have cast on certain of our most essential institutions for maintaining public order, the insult that smeared the good name of this province, become the source of the salutary reform of two great professions, that of the practice of law and that of the practice of freedom of information, so that beyond laws and fallible men’s writings, justice be first respected.
(Signed) Roger Brossard