Sensible Judgments

I don’t often write about court decisions. As a law librarian and not a lawyer, I try to leave this to the legal experts of Slaw. Sometimes, though, I feel compelled to point out specific decisions from the Alberta Courts.

Since it is New Year’s Eve, this day of frequent imbibing, I draw your attention to a relatively recent decision from Alberta Provincial Court Judge Bart Rosborough: R. v. Omeasoo, 2013 ABPC 328 (CanLII). In this decision, Judge Rosborough writes about bail conditions frequently imposed on alcoholics – refraining from consuming that which they are addicted to. Paula Simons wrote an excellent opinion piece in the Calgary Herald about this case where she points out that the decision is so well reasoned that the Crown has chosen not to appeal the ruling.

The decision is foreshadowed by an excellent opening paragraph:

[1] Over-consumption of alcohol is a sad reality of contemporary Canadian society. Alcohol abuse also features prominently in many cases heard and determined by our criminal courts. This case deals with the sentencing of two aboriginal offenders who were charged with minor offences and released from police custody on condition that they abstain from the consumption of alcohol. Each of these individuals is an alcoholic. Under what circumstances should alcoholics be prohibited from consuming alcohol as a condition of their release from custody? What is a fit sentence for those alcoholics who breach that condition?

I encourage the curious to read Simons opinion as well as Judge Rosborough’s decision.

I hope this decision and the Alberta Crowns reaction to it will pave the way for increased ability to access addictions treatment. Treating the cause rather than just the effect of a social problem seems a sensible decision.

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