Juries were a hot topic this month. In the latest chapter of the ongoing legal saga, a mistrial was declared in the trial of Dennis Oland, after an officer did improper background checks on jurors. In other news on juries, Nathalie Des Rosiers introduced the Juries Statute Law Amendement Act, a private members bill that would improve the representation of juries in Ontario. This type of reform is being applauded by many defence lawyers, including Kate Robertson, who argues that the bill would provide a more representative jury pool than the procedures proposed in federal Bill C75.
Police Records Reform Act came into force on November 1. The Act provides a framework for how police record checks are requested and conducted. Deborah McKenna provides an excellent overview of the new act, including this chart that lays out what can be disclosed.
In a rare move, a Superior Court judge in Peel spoke publicly about the problems with the Brampton courthouse. Justice Peter Daley argued that the lack of space and courtrooms in the courthouse contribute significantly to unacceptable delays in the courts. His sentiments are echoed by Criminal Lawyers' Association spokesperson Daniel Brown, who agrees that the lack of infrastructure leads to unacceptable delays and affects the public's confidence in the justice system.
In R v. J.D., the Ontario Court of Appeal agreed to hear a constitutional argument with respect to the validity of a s. 161 order which restricts an individual's attendance at places and employment involving children.
In R v. Wuschenny, Justice Pomerance acquitted the accused of a historic sexual assault, and provided an excellent overview of the law of identification and the importance of guarding against using unreliable evidence to that result in wrongful convictions.
The Ontario Court of Appeal released its decision in R. v. Herta, which dealt with whether drug evidence should be excluded following an illegal search. The court found that the redactions to information provided by a confidential informant made it difficult to meaningfully assess their credibility. Given that the Crown has not invoked 'step six' procedure to allow the court to consider the redacted material, the information contained was insufficient to support the warrant. The Court of Appeal ultimately excluded the evidence and entered an acquittal.
One more thing (for all law nerds out there...):
Be sure to follow along with Abergel Goldstein and Partner's All-time Best Ficitional Lawyer battle. Voting starts Sunday!