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May Criminal Law Round-up

This month saw a big variety of interesting cases on the criminal law front, from policing to jails to sentencing. 

News:

After news stories of the severe impact of solitary confinement continued to capture public attention, Ontario's ombudsman called for an end to indefinite segregation. Professor Lisa Kerr wrote an op-ed for The Globe and Mail, calling for amendments to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to stop this dehumanizing treatment.

Ottawa lawyer Paul Champ announced that he is bringing a class action lawsuit against the province on behalf of two former prisoners at the Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre. You can read more and listen to an interview about the case here.

Jian Ghomeshi managed to stay in the news this month as his case came to an abrupt end when he entered into a peace bond and his final charge of sexual assault was withdrawn by the Crown. In case you missed the media storm surrounding this event, you can refresh your memory here.

Cases

A Superior Court judge found that inmates at the Maplehurst jail had their Charter rights violated by the frequent lockdowns. The judge awarded the two individuals who brought the case $60000 and $25000 respectively. This case is different than the Ottawa one listed above, as it was not a class action, but still provides an important precedent. You can read the decision here or read a helpful overview here. And if you missed it, you can catch up on my post about lockdowns at the Ottawa jail here.

A judge in Brampton decided an impaired driving case and held that the device used in impaired driving screening, the Intoxilyzer 8000C, is unreliable, calling into question the validity of guilty verdicts in such cases. The case is being appealed by the Crown, but could have a significant impact on the ways in which drunk driving cases are handled by police and the Crown.

The Court of Appeal for Ontario released a case this month dealing with the standard for police officers who are disciplined under the Police Services Act. The court found that in order to show misconduct, the evidence must be clear and convincing, rather than proof on a balance of probabilities. Yamri Taddesse provides an overview here, outlining how this decision provides for a heightened quality of evidence in order to show misconduct.

Another notable case from the Ontario Court of Appeal dealt with sentencing of Aboriginal people and the application of Gladue principles. (See my previous post on that here.) The court found that it is an error in law not to take into account an individual's Aboriginal background. You can find the full case here, or read an overview here.

Around here

I had an op-ed published in the Ottawa Citizen, explaining how peace bonds, particularly in the context of cases such as Ghomeshi, can indeed be a 'path to the truth' as suggested by complainant Kathryn Borel. You can read it here.

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