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August Criminal Law Round-up

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While the courts are typically quieter during the summer months, there was no shortage of interesting criminal law news in the month of August:

News:

Canada announced changes to its medical marijuana legislation, passing the Access to Canabis for a Medical Purpose Regulations. These replace the former rules (Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations, or MMPR's) and allow people to produce their own medical marijuana subject to some limitations. Megan Gillis wrote a story for the Ottawa Citizen about the issue here. The decision still leaves issues the of obtaining marijuana for people who do not wish to produce their own. Lawyers Ben Kates and Gerald Chan wrote about the need to clarify marijuana legislation here.

Association of Police Chiefs proposed a resolution calling for legislation that would compel the holder of a password to provide it to the police if they had judicial authorization (akin to a search warrant). This announcement has been criticized, including Nader R. Hasan, who wrote an opinion piece outlining how the law infringes privacy rights and the right against self-incrimination.

Colten Boushie, a young man from Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan was killed this month on a farmer's property. The incident has sparked a wider discussion about racism against Indigenous people, as an on-line storm of racist comments, prompted investigations by the RCMP into hate speech online. Gerald Stanley, the farmer who is accused of second degree murder was released on bail later this month.

And in happier news, Brendan Dassey, who was featured in the Netflix show 'Making a Murderer' had his conviction for murder overturned.

Decisions:

Ottawa teacher Katherine Kitts sentenced to 14 months for sexual exploitation of student. The sentence was at the high range of what the Crown was seeking. I appeared on CTV Morning Live in Ottawa to give some commentary on the case. Here is the clip:

Matthew Hamm, a self-represented man being held in an Edmonton jail, successfully argued for his release from segregation using a habeas corpus application. Habeas corpus, which in latin means 'You may have the body' is a mechanism that allows an individual to be brought before a court if they are being held unlawfully. In this case, Mr. Hamm convinced a judge that he was unlawfully placed in solitary confinement and ordered him to be released. Read more about it here.

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