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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.

News:

The decision to move Terri-Lynn McClintic to an Aboriginal Healing Lodge sparked public outrage and even debate in the House of Commons. (McClintic was convicted of the 2009 death of eight year old Tori Stafford.) Despite Conservative party leader Andrew Scheer calling for the move to be reversed through a vote, the spokesperson for the Minister of Public Safety has stated that they cannot encroach on the management of an individual prisoner. It should be noted that McClintic is Indigenous and that the healing lodge is still a medium security institution, although with more culturally appropriate programming.

Ironically, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale released a mandate letter for the new commissioner of Corrections Services, which directs her to find culturally appropriate programming and opportunities, including the increased use of healing lodges. 

The House of Commons Committee on Justice and Human Rights heard evidence on the Liberal's proposed Bill C-75. The omnibus bill provides for a wide range of changes to the criminal justice system, from preliminary inquiries, jury selection and bail. Much of the evidence of the 78 (!) witnesses is here (under the individual meeting dates) or you can read the written briefs.

Cases:

In R v. Morris, Justice Nakatsuru wrote in his signature accessible style, explaining the impacts of racism in his sentencing decision for a gun crime. He ultimately imposes a sentence of 1 year, which the Crown has indicated they will appeal, calling the sentence unfit.

A military appeals court released a decision this month that found that the current procedure for prosecuting offences by a military tribunal does not comply with the Charter. The decision found that civil offences are not offences under military law, and that individuals charged with serious offences should be permitted to be tried by jury. 

In R v. Cootes, the BC Superior Court ruled on an 11(b) case, agreeing with the defence that defence counsel does not need to hold itself in a state of perpetual availability and that The defence delay due to counsel not being available was not to be deducted from the overall delay.

In case you missed it:

I wrote a piece for the Law Times on mandatory minimum sentences and Senator Kim Pate's bill S-21 to allow judges discretion in sentencing. 

If you haven't picked up Emond Publishing's "Indigenous People and the Criminal Justice System" yet, you can read my review here

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