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Ottawa Criminal Defence Law Blog

January 2019 Criminal Law Round-up

The sentencing hearing began this month for the case involving the fatal bus crash of the Humboldt Broncos hockey team. The court has heard many victim impact statements from the families of the deceased, which has raised the question of what role victim impact statements should play in the court. Law professor Benjamin Perrin comments that victim impact statements can provide valuable evidence to judges, but should be used with caution. Lawyer Tom Engel, on the other hand, has noted on Twitter that many of the statements made in court are outside of the scope of what the Criminal Code permits.

Impaired driving update: Implications of Bill C-46

The holiday season is upon us, and with it comes a spike in road checks for  impaired drivers. This year, the landscape around drinking and driving has changed with the coming into force of new impaired driving laws on December 18, 2018. The new legislation, which received Royal Assent in June, makes significant changes for the law of evidence, possible defences and minimum sentences for impaired driving cases.

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.

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