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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. Groia v. Law Society of Upper Canada, 2018 SCC 27

[1] The trial process in Canada is one of the cornerstones of our constitutional democracy. It is essential to the maintenance of a civilized society. Trials are the primary mechanism whereby disputes are resolved in a just, peaceful, and orderly way.

[2] To achieve their purpose, it is essential that trials be conducted in a civilized manner. Trials marked by strife, belligerent behaviour, unwarranted personal attacks, and other forms of disruptive and discourteous conduct are antithetical to the peaceful and orderly resolution of disputes we strive to achieve.

(Check for commentary on CanLII Connects)

2. Highwood Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses (Judicial Committee) v. Wall, 2018 SCC 26

[1] The central question in this appeal is when, if ever, courts have jurisdiction to review the decisions of religious organizations where there are concerns about procedural fairness. In 2014, the appellant, the Judicial Committee of the Highwood Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, disfellowshipped the respondent, Randy Wall, after he admitted that he had engaged in sinful behaviour and was considered to be insufficiently repentant. The Judicial Committee’s decision was confirmed by an Appeal Committee. Mr. Wall brought an originating application for judicial review of the decision to disfellowship him before the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench. The court first dealt with the issue of whether it had jurisdiction to decide the matter. Both the chambers judge and a majority of the Court of Appeal concluded that the courts had jurisdiction and could proceed to consider the merits of Mr. Wall’s application.

(Check for commentary on CanLII Connects)

3. R. v. Wong, 2018 SCC 25

[1] This case concerns the proper approach for considering whether a guilty plea can be withdrawn on the basis that the accused was unaware of a collateral consequence stemming from that plea, such that holding him or her to the plea amounts to a miscarriage of justice under s. 686(1)(a)(iii) of the Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46.

[2] The decision of an accused to plead guilty is plainly significant. By pleading guilty, an accused waives his or her constitutional right to a trial, relieving the Crown of its burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Taking this step is of such significance that it represents one of the very few decisions in the criminal process which an accused must personally take. Indeed, defence counsel are ethically bound to ensure that the ultimate choice is that of the accused.

(Check for commentary on CanLII Connects)

The most-consulted French-language decision was R. c. Wong, 2018 CSC 25

[1] La présente affaire porte sur la démarche qui s’impose pour examiner si un plaidoyer de culpabilité peut être retiré au motif que l’accusé n’était pas au courant d’une conséquence indirecte résultant du plaidoyer, de telle sorte que l’y assujettir constitue une erreur judiciaire aux termes du sous‑al. 686(1)a)(iii) du Code criminel, L.R.C. 1985, c. C‑46.

[2] Pour un accusé, plaider coupable est manifestement une décision importante. En plaidant coupable, un accusé renonce à son droit constitutionnel à un procès, libérant ainsi le ministère public du fardeau de prouver sa culpabilité hors de tout doute raisonnable. Cette démarche est si importante qu’elle est l’une des rares décisions du processus pénal qui reviennent personnellement à l’accusé. En effet, les règles de déontologie obligent l’avocat de la défense à s’assurer que le choix ultime est bien celui de l’accusé.

(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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