From “How McKenna saved the Fighting Fisherman”, by Philip Lee, Ottawa Citizen, September 8, 2001: B1, B4. From Lee’s book, Frank: The Life and Politics of Frank McKenna. How McKenna, then a 29 year-old lawyer with three years of experience, successfully defended retired boxer Yvon Durelle against a charge of murder, through arguing self-defence.
The Mounties who took the telephone calls from Durelle on the day of the shooting took the stand. RCMP Const. Jean Harrison had received a call from Durelle on the afternoon of May 20. Harrison said Durelle told him if he didn’t do something, he would have to “take care of it himself”, a crucial statement which implied that Durelle had planned to kill [Albain] Poirier and didn’t pull the trigger in a spontaneous act of self-defence.
“Constable, are you sure you didn’t say ‘Mr. Durelle, you can look after that yourself?” McKenna asked.
“No sir, I’m pretty sure I did not,” the constable replied.
McKenna paused and continued to pace. He mused that Harrison was relating from memory what he heard more than three months ago. Suddenly he whirled to face the police officer.
“Can you repeat from memory the last five questions I asked you here?”
“No,” Harrison replied weakly.
“No further questions,” McKenna said, as he took his seat.
Thought the strategy was brilliant. Showed it to one of the defence counsel at the law firm, who asked “What if the officer had been able to remember the questions, or most of them?”
Jury trail. Very much a calculated risk, that ultimately benefited his client.
The calculated risks in politics…