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April 2019 Criminal Law Round-up

News:

Doug Ford's government introduced its budget this month, which included a 33% cut to Legal Aid's budget. This move, meant to 'streamline' the delivery of legal services to low-income Ontarians, has been harshly criticized by lawyers, who know that it will have devastating impacts on access to justice. This opinion piece by Erin Durant and Sherif Foda emphasizes the critical role that Legal Aid plays in the efficient functioning of our court system.

Also included in the budget was a proposal to current source list of jurors from property assessment rolls to the province's health card database. This change would widen the potential pool of individuals eligible to serve on juries and hopefully provide a more representative sample. In this article, Omar Ha-Redeye provides a helpful overview of the procedures in other provinces, and the possible benefits of the proposal to juries in Ontario.

Cases

The Supreme Court ruled in R v. Mills, finding that an individual does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in sexual messages sent to an undercover police officer posing as a child on the internet and that police officers do not need to obtain a warrant for such communications. The case consists of a majority and three concurrent judgments, which Steven Penny, a law professor at the University of Alberta, has succinctly summarized in this post.

The Ontario Court of Appeal released its decision in G. v. Ontario (A.G.), where it ruled that the sexual offender registry (SOIRA) discriminates against those with mental illness. The Court found that for those discharged of a sexual offence after being found not criminally responsible, being subject to SOIRA violates their Charter rights. The Court did not find that the imposition of the SOIRA order would offend an individiual's right to life, liberty and security of the person under s. 7, but that it did offend equality rights under s. 15. This article from the Civil Liberties Association, who intervened on the case, provides a good overview.

In the trial of Joshua Boyle, a former hostage in Afghanistan, the new sexual assault provisions following the introduction of Bill C-51 are being interpreted for among the first times. Justice Doody's decision in R v. Boyle with respect to the defence's s. 276 application with respect to prior sexual activity was released this month, and the complainant, who has standing, is appealing the decision to the Superior Court. Christie Blatchford provides her analysis of the new paradigm of sexual assault law here.

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