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Ottawa Criminal Defence Law Blog

Jordan, Cody and Some Friendly Reminders on Delays in the Courts

It has now been almost a year since the Supreme Court of Canada released its decision in R v. Jordan, overhauling the test for a right to a trial in a reasonable time. Last week, the Court revisited the issue of delay in the case of R. v. Cody and confirmed its ruling in Jordan, upholding the 18 and 30 month ceilings for a trial. (As a colleague succinctly put it, the Court essentially re-iterated: "We meant what we said.")

Digital Privacy and Cell Phone Searches

Cell phones have become an ever present reality of life, as we constantly carry around devices containing a signficant amounts of personal data. The information on these devices can often be used as part of police investigations. For example, we often see police using cell phone tower data to triangulate a person's location based on their phone. Text messages have become an increasingly common piece of evidence in trials, which leads to the question: can the police search my phone?

April 2017 Criminal Law Round-up

The federal government announced two pieces of legislation around the legalization of marijuana. The proposed Cannabis Bill would allow for the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use, while downloading the sale and regulation of the drug to the provinces. The Liberals also introduced a bill about Impaired Driving, which deals not only with impairment but also of alcohol, and has raised questions as to whether the changes would survive a constitutional challenge.  (See also BC lawyer Sarah Leamon's thoughts on Power and Politics. The bills have raised some important discussions about the criminalization of racialized communities and the prospect of amnesty for past convictions.  

March Criminal Law Round-up

As March roared both in and out like a lion, the world of criminal law in Canada saw some important legislative changes and Supreme Court decisions, among other news-worthy cases.

Restoring public faith in the courts around sexual assault: judicial education is not enough

For those with even a passing interest in the news or the criminal justice system, it would seem that the Canadian courts are now overrun with problematic sexual assault cases and judges. We recently saw Robin Camp resign as a federal court judge, after infamously asking why a complainant failed to 'keep her knees' together. A case in Halifax has the public outraged as a judge asserted that even drunks can consent. As public confidence in our court system seems to be shaken, the federal government has cast its gaze on judicial education as a response.

Women in Criminal Law

This past weekend, the Criminal Lawyer's Association hosted a conference in Toronto for women defence counsel. The well-attended event provided female defence lawyers, and some students, lots of practical tips and food for thought of our role in the criminal justice system. The conference, now in its third year, grew out of a need for a space for female defence lawyers to talk about specific issues that affect women in private practice. In 2016, the CLA released a report with respect to the Retention of Women in Private Practice, which illustrated the various challenges facing women defence lawyers, from the financial logistics of taking time off to have a child, to the gendered difference of treatment by those in the court system. The conference was one way for defence lawyers to connect and talk about these challenges, while providing space for women to share and celebrate some of their successes.

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