Wednesday: What’s Hot on CanLII

Each Wednesday we tell you which three English-language cases and which French-language case have been the most viewed* on CanLII and we give you a small sense of what the cases are about.

For this last week:

1. Cotton v Berry, 2017 BCSC 907

[168] The Father’s aggressive behaviour around the time of separation and during some exchanges of the children has been transient and relatively minor. It has not been directed at the children but may have affected their well-being because they have sometimes been present. This is not a case where family violence is a significant factor for determining parenting arrangements. However, minimizing contact between the parents will be better for the children as well as the parents.

(Check for commentary on CanLII Connects)

2. R. v. Shields, 2017 BCPC 395

[87] I recognize the courage required by a sexual assault complainant to come forward and testify in a criminal trial. However, as I earlier stated, a criminal trial is not a credibility contest between witnesses. It is a trial to determine whether the charge has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. I have heard evidence of two different versions of what occurred in the bathroom in 2009. Apart from concerns about the reliability of her evidence, A.S. provided an entirely plausible account of being sexually assaulted in the bathroom by Mr. Shields. In contrast, Mr. Shields provided a believable account of a consensual sexual encounter with A.S. I do have concerns about some of his evidence such as how he ended up in the bathroom with A.S. However, when I consider his evidence in the context of all the evidence, these concerns are not sufficient for me to reject his evidence. After analysing all the evidence, his evidence raises a reasonable doubt in my mind against A.S.’s subjective assertion that she did not consent to the sexual touching in the bathroom. Accordingly, the law requires me to find you not guilty of the charge and I so do. Given my conclusion there is no need to consider whether the defence of honest but mistaken belief in consent applies.

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3. R. v Butler, 2017 CanLII 86418 (NL PC)

[19] There can be coincidental meetings of people, especially in small towns: see for example R. v. Ducey 1995 NLCA 178. However, it strains credulity to suggest that 26 contacts in 4 years, especially when the parties live 40 km apart, is a matter of mere coincidence. It becomes even harder to believe that coincidental meetings could continue after the accused has been told or asked to stay away from the complainant and her family by several police officers and by the complainant’s spouse.

(Check for commentary on CanLII Connects)

The most-consulted French-language decision was R. c. Ramsurrun, 2017 QCCS 5791

[176] En l’instance, ce que l’accusé conteste est la validité constitutionnelle de l’article 745.51 C. cr. Il soutient que cette disposition constitue une peine cruelle et inusitée par ses effets exagérément disproportionnés, indépendamment du pouvoir discrétionnaire dont dispose le tribunal d’appliquer ou non cette peine[161].

[177] Pour appuyer sa prétention sur les effets de la disposition contestée, l’accusé invoque trois moyens, soit: 1) l’existence du droit antérieur prévoyant une peine appropriée permettant d’atteindre les objectifs fixés par le législateur, 2) l’inéligibilité à la libération conditionnelle pour une période de 40 ans est sans valeur à toute fin de réinsertion sociale, de réhabilitation, de dissuasion ou de rétribution, 3) l’inéligibilité pour une très longue période est d’une sévérité inhabituelle et donc dégradante pour la dignité et la valeur de l’être humain.

(Check for commentary on CanLII Connects)

* As of January 2014 we measure the total amount of time spent on the pages rather than simply the number of hits; as well, a case once mentioned won’t appear again for three months.

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