Category: Criminal Procedure

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Aboriginal Dangerous Offenders and Sentencing

This month the British Columbia Court of Appeal (“BCCA”) handed down a decision in the case of an Aboriginal offender, David Jennings. The accused in R v Jennings, 2016 BCCA 127 had a violent criminal history involving repeated sexual offenses against children over the course of nearly 30 years. Central to the appeal was the issue of how Gladue factors should be weighed by a judge in the trial of an Aboriginal person along with alternative forms of sentencing for Aboriginal people. This ruling speaks to the misconception that an Aboriginal person should necessarily be treated more leniently by the...

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Cold Case Murders in Toronto and the Role of the Public

I’ve stopped counting the number of people that have asked me whether I tuned into the “Serial” podcast about the murder of Baltimore teen Hae Min Lee and possible wrongful conviction of her boyfriend Adnan Syed. The popularity of this online version of a 48 hours special spread like wildfire. Fans of the show seemed to wait with baited breath while discussing what new elements of the case the next episode would uncover. The podcast captured the attention of not only armchair investigator wannabes, but also a State prosecutor, defence attorneys and other justice actors in the State of Maryland....

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R v Meer: the Trouble with Bad Lawyers

The Supreme Court’s judgment in R v Meer [2016 SCC 5] was very brief. In essence: appeal dismissed; majority below—right, dissent—wrong. The case itself, however, as described in the reasons of the Alberta Court of Appeal (“ABCA”) [2015 ABCA 141] from which the appeal was made, has all the qualities of a soap opera. It would be entertaining had very real harm not come to very real people. Here’s how it happened. One Mr. Meer owned a business. Eventually the business went under. Mr. Meer’s creditors, including the Royal Bank of Canada, started suing him. The business went into receivership....

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R v Rogers Communications: Some Guidelines for Big Brother

In R v Rogers Communications, 2016 ONSC 70 [Rogers], Justice John Sproat of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice provided some much needed guidance to police and issuing justices when handling production orders for “tower dumps.” Sought by investigators through a court order, tower dumps occur when a telecom company is compelled to provide the names and numbers of cellphone users that have used a particular cellphone tower. So why should you care if you did not commit a crime? What are the police going to do with that information? There is a good chance that if the information is...

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Is the New NCR Defense Law Too Little, Too Late?

Murder in Shoppers Drug Mart An apparently random stabbing amid the hustle and bustle of Christmas shoppers and downtown professionals stunned the City of Toronto. Rosemarie Junor was making a quick midday stop at a Shoppers Drug Mart when she was brutally attacked by an unknown assailant who left a grave knife wound through her heart. Beloved by many, Ms. Junor, a 28-year-old newlywed, clung to her life for several days before succumbing to her injuries. She was laid to rest on December 22, 2015. In short measure, the Toronto Police Service identified the suspect as 40-year-old Rohinie Bisesar. In...

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Breaking New ‘Tertiary’ Ground? Marco Muzzo in the Shadow of St. Cloud

By now we have all heard the story of three children and their grandfather killed in a car accident in Vaughan, ON on September 27th due to the actions of an alleged drunk driver. The heart wrenching public statements made by a father who must bury all of his children and a mother who lost both her children and her father still resonate within the community. In the aftermath of the accident, thousands of people rallied together and donated over $250,000 to the Neville-Lake family’s fund. The emotional scars of this tremendous loss are still raw and cut deeper than the...

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Youth Sentencing and The Death of Officer Garrett Styles: Punishing with a Cause?

Within a few weeks, Ontario Superior Court Justice Alex Sosna will deliver his sentence in one of the most prolonged and closely watched youth offender cases in Canadian history. He will have to decide the appropriate punishment for a now 19-year-old whose actions led to the death of a York Regional Police constable over four years ago. This case has ignited strong views on what is “fitting” for the offender given the nature of the offense. As it stands, the youth offender, S.K., is a convicted first-degree murderer but, somehow, this reality does not seem to par with other examples...

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Rogue Juror? R v Pannu and Protecting Jury Deliberation

The film 12 Angry Men is a classic representation of the diverse personalities that come together on a jury and the challenges of reaching a consensus. In it, we see how group dynamics constantly evolve as the jury struggles to meet their obligation of delivering a sound verdict. Last week, the Court of Appeal for Ontario (“ONCA”) in R v Pannu, 2015 ONCA 677 dealt with this very issue. The justices ruled on a case that concerned a jury member bringing extraneous information into the jury deliberation room. The main point of contention was the potential influence that this unauthorized...

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R v Crevier: Police Informants and the Balancing Act of Challenging Warrants

Police representatives often speak about the difficulties of soliciting information from the public about crimes that have taken place. Fear and a “don’t snitch” culture are common explanations for why this problem exists. In 2009, Kenneth Mark was gunned down after testifying as a witness in an attempted murder trial. His tragic story is a palpable reminder of what can happen to those who assist police in their effort to control crime. Although Mr. Mark was not a confidential informant, it is understandable why someone in his position might choose to remain anonymous. In light of the risks involved with...

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A TheCourt.ca Exclusive Interview: R v Spencer One Year Later

A New Hurdle To Protecting Our Children? A Perspective from the Toronto Police Internet Child Exploitation Unit Last year, TheCourt.ca published two key articles about the Supreme Court of Canada’s landmark ruling on Internet privacy. See Jordan Casey’s summary here and Stuart Wood’s analysis here. After its release, R v Spencer, [2014] 2 SCR 212 [Spencer] was hailed by privacy advocates as a monumental shift toward establishing meaningful protection of informational privacy and fundamental notions of liberty and human rights. However, strong views expressing the detrimental effect of Spencer are more pronounced as the impact of the ruling sets in. In...