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March Criminal Law Round-up

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While the country remained riveted by the trial and ultimate acquittal of Jian Ghomeshi, there was no shortage of news and cases in the criminal courts this month. 

News:

Justice of the Peace Julie Lauzon wrote a scathing indictment of the bail system, particularly in the Ottawa courthouse in this opinion piece in the National Post. Her article has sparked much coverage and debate around bail reform, including this commentary by Toronto criminal defence lawyer Daniel Brown. (Be sure to check out my previous blog posts about bail here and here.)

In Ottawa, accuseds persons who don't get released on bail end up awaiting trial at the Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre on Innes Road. The conditions of the jail have been criticized in the past, but have been front page news in the past few weeks when it was revealed in an article by Gary Dimmock that inmates had been forced to sleep in the shower on mouldy mattresses. Ontario's Ministry of Community Safety has now banned the practice and called a taskforce to address issues the jail. You can read about it here.

The Special Investigations Unit in Toronto decided that the officer who shot and fatally killed Andrew Loku will not face criminal charges. This outcome has spurred protests from the Black Lives Matter movement, who are going strong with a tent city outside of the Toronto Police Station to highlight systemic racism in the police force. Desmond Cole provides important background and insight here.

Canada's terrorism laws came into play this month when Kevin Omar Mohamed was arrested on suspicion of terrorist activity. Though he was eventually charged with a terrorism offence, the arrest was questioned by lawyers, included criminal defence lawyer Annamaria Enenajor in this Canadian Lawyer Magazine blog post.

Cases:

The Ghomeshi trial dominated headlines with many, many articles analyzing the decision. The complete decision is online and definitely worth a read. This article by Alberta Law professor Alice Wooley takes on some of the criticisms in a thoughtful way. Lawyer Omar Ha-Redeye gave these recommendations as to how we can move forward.

Marco Muzzo was sentenced to 10 years of prison after killing three children and their grandfather while driving drunk. This overview of the case is contains a copy of the decision itself.

The victim fine surcharge has been the topic of much debate and challenge in the past few years. While it has now been ruled constitutional, Justice David Paccioco found that the victim fine surcharge discriminates against people with mental disabilities. The news story is here, and the lengthy decision comes from a challenge brought by Ottawa lawyer Tobias Okada-Phillips on behalf of his client Sunshine Madeley.

The Supreme Court of Canada released a decision concerning infanticide, which clarified the term 'disturbed mind of the mother' to be a broad a flexible legal standard to be applied to each case. Some background information on the decision is here.

Around here:

Last week I had the pleasure of sitting down with Adrian Harewood of CBC Ottawa News at 6 to discussion the Ghomeshi verdict. The clip is here at minute 28.

I also spoke to CTV about the conditions at the jail and the effects that they are having on those incarcerated there. Check it out here.

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