In what I’m hoping will be a monthly feature, here is a round-up of some of the last month’s news, cases and goings-on in criminal law in Ottawa and beyond.
In the news:
The Correctional Investigator of Canada Howard Sapers released a report stating that over 25% of federal inmates are Aboriginal. For a more personal story, check out this story by Kenneth Jackson from APTN about Marlene Carter, a Cree woman with significant mental health issues who has been in custody for most of her adult life.
Two Toronto Police officers were charged with perjury and obstruction of justice after a judge found that they had planted evidence in an accused person’s car.
On a more positive note, the Ottawa courthouse is now offering feathers for Indigenous witnesses to use to swear an oath. Find the story here.
The Ottawa courthouse suffered a huge loss with the death of veteran defence counsel Bill Carroll. Andrew Seymour’s story sums up Bill’s love of law and the courthouse.
In the courts:
The case of R v. Elliott, which dealt with criminal harassment on Twitter was decided this month. Mr. Elliott was found not guilty as the judge found that the tweets sent did not meet the threshold for criminal liability. He noted that Twitter is a public sphere and that the non-direct tweets were not enough to base a reasonable fear of the complainants’ safety. The lengthy decision is here and you can read a summary of the case here.
The case of Toronto Police officer James Forcillo received a lot of attention for its head-scratching result of a conviction of attempted murder in the death of teen Sammy Yatim. Peter Sankoff provided a good explanation of compromise verdicts here.
A Superior Court judge in Ontario found that court orders compelling telecommunications companies to hand over vast amounts of subscriber information (i.e. cell phone tower dumps) are not permissible and violate the Charter. In the case, the Peel Regional Police had asked that the information of every individual whose cell phone had ‘bounced’ off a cell tower during a specific period be released. They were denied on the basis that the demand was too broad. The case is here or you can read a summary here.
I had the pleasure of dropping by Ottawa Morning to chat about Netflix’s super popular ‘Making a Murderer.’ The audio clip is here.
I also made my podcast debut on Michael Spratt’s podcast ‘The Docket.’ I sat down with Michael and indigenous sex work advocate and law student Naomi Sayers to discuss domestic violence in the court. We focused on a paper writing by University of Windsor prof David Tanovich’s article about ‘Whacking the Complainant.’ Have a listen.
Did any stories capture your attention this month? Feel free to leave a comment or send a tweet to @McElroy_law.