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October 2016 Archives

Joint positions and the administration of justice

Many of the cases winding their way through the criminal justice system will end in guilty pleas. And of those pleas, many will be the subject of joint positions, meaning that both the Crown and the defence are asking for an agreed-upon sentence. The Supreme Court of Canada released a new decision last week, R v. Anthony-Cook, clarifying the role of judges in considering joint positions. Before this decision, there had been some disagreement between provinces as to the right test to apply, but the Supreme Court confirmed that a judge must apply a 'public interest test.' According to the test, a trial judge should not depart from a joint submission unless the proposed sentence would bring the administration of justice into disrepute. This test is more stringent than other tests that have been used, such as whether a sentence is fit. 

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