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July & August 2017 Criminal Law Round-up

As summer draws to a close, it's time to look at the most important news and cases from the last two months: 

News:

It may feel like ancient history, given the manic pace of our current news cycle, but the news of Omar Khadr's settlement from the Canadian government was a focal point in the month of July. This article gives a good overview of some legal perspectives on the issue.

Senator Mike Duffy made waves when he announced that he is suing the Senate and RCMP for over $7.8 million following his acquittal in criminal charges last year. Susan Delacourt draws a parallel to Khadr here, arguing that despite having many critics, both men have powerful court rulings detailing their treatment by the Canadian governmenton their side. 

A Toronto police officer and his brother have been charged with assault, for a brutal attack on teenager Dafonte Miller. Julian Falconer has now filed a formal complaint with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, alleging misconduct on the part of the Toronto police and Durham regional forces in attempting to cover up the beating. This link from Falconer's site provides a list of the coverage. 

In Ottawa, the court launched its first Indigenous People's Court to better support Indiginous people by connecting them to local services and reducing recidivism. 

Cases:

The Supreme Court of Canada released two decisions this July. The first, R v. George, deals with the issue of mistaken belief in age in a sexual assault against a young person. The Court confirmed the test courts much follow in assessing mistakage of age: in order to convict, the Crown in such cases must prove that the person did not honestly believe the complainant was at least 16 and did not take all reasonable steps to ascertain the complainant's age, which is highly contextual, fact-specific exercise.

In R v. Alex, the Supreme Court considered the evidentiary shortcuts that are used in driving over 80 cases, finding that a lawful demand is not necessary for the Crown to file a certificate of an accused blood alcohol level at the time of the alleged offence. Defence lawyer Jordan Gold explores the implications of the ruling.

In R v. Fountain, the Ontario Court of Appeal looked at 'Prosper warnings', which come up instances where an individual who is detained abandons their right to legal advice. The Court ruled in this case that the accused had been reasonably diligent in trying to contact his lawyer, and had not waived his right to counsel. The statement to police was therefore excluded. This article from Supreme Court Advocacy provides a succinct overview.

The Ontario Court of Appeal struck down another mandatory minimum sentence this summer in R v. Morrison, ruling that the one year penalty for child luring was unconstitutional. See my thoughts on the case and mandatory minimums in my blog post on 'The Art of Sentencing.'

Finally, in R v. Orlandis-Hasburgo, the Ontario Court of Appeal found that police needed a search warrant in order to seize an individual's hydro records. The court ruled that while these records aren't highly sensitive, an individual still has an objective and subjective expectation of privacy in them. University of Ottawa professor Teresa Scassa provides a good overview and analysis of the case here.

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