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Ottawa Criminal Defence Law Blog

October 2018 Criminal Law Round-Up

The biggest news of the month was the legalization of cannabis when Bill C-45 came into force on October 17. As people lined up (or placed their orders online), the government announced that it will pardon those with convicitons for marijuana offences. Advocates for pardons, lead in large part by Annamaria Enenajor's efforts with Cannabis Amnesty, have highlighted the disproportionate effect that criminal records for marijuana offences has on marginalized communities. Lawyers Ben Kates and Pam Hrick argue in their op-ed that expungements of criminal records are necessary in order to right this historical wrong.

September 2018 Criminal Law Round-up

This September, the news cycle spun at a frantic pace, between Ontario's municipal election notwithstanding clause issue and the confirmation hearings of Judge Brett Kavanaugh in the United States. In the world of criminal law, there are some other stories and case that are worth catching up on, in case you missed them.

Indigenous People and the Criminal Justice System: A Book Review

When the Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) released its report in 2015, there were a number of items that centred on the criminal justice system and the over-representation of Indigenous people in courts and jails. The TRC identified a lack of sensitivity amongst lawyers working with residential school Survivors, which in some cases resulted in inadequate legal services. They included two calls to action for lawyers, first that the Federation of Law Societies ensure that lawyers receive appropriate cultural competency training (26) and that law schools require all students to take a course in Aboriginal people and the Law (27). The education of lawyers with respect to Indigenous issues is critically important, especially for those working in the criminal justice system, and Jonathan Rudin's "Indigenous People and the Criminal Justice System" is an essential resource.

Full Disclosure: Setting the (fictional) record straight

Former Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin published her first novel this spring, a legal thriller set in Vancouver. "Full Disclosure" is the story of a female criminal defence lawyer named Jilly Truitt who takes on a high profile case of first degree murder, despite warnings from her family and friends that she should let this case go. The novel follows the case of Richard Trussardi, who is accused of killing his wife, from his arrest through to the trial with many twists and turns along the way.

The Perils of Bill C-75 (Or: Why We Should Care About Criminal Justice Policy)

It has been almost a month since the Liberal government tabled its new criminal justice bill on March 29th. There was a flurry of activity on Twitter over that weekend as defence lawyers, including myself, decried the changes that Bill C-75 proposes. There have been a wide range of reactions to the bill, which seeks to reform a number of different areas of criminal justice. But the reactions are largely from those who work in the criminal justice system, and may not yet have permeated the public consciousness in a meaningful way.

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