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. R. v. Acheampong, 2018 ONCJ 798

[72] The racialized context of the excessive use of force in this case also weighs in favour of a measurable reduction in sentence. While I accept that the actions of the police officers in this case were in no way influenced by any element of racism, there remains a perception of two armed white police officers assaulting an unarmed young black man. In an era where grass roots organizations like “Black Lives Matter” have sprouted up across the country in response to police violence against black persons, it is especially important for the courts to denounce excessive police force in a racialized context. Section 718 of the Code identifies the “fundamental purpose” of sentencing as that of contributing to “respect for the law and the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society”. A measurable sentence reduction for police violence in a case like this can help to restore racialized minorities respect for the law.

(Check for commentary on CanLII Connects)

2. R. v. Jordan, 2016 SCC 27

[1] Timely justice is one of the hallmarks of a free and democratic society. In the criminal law context, it takes on special significance. Section 11(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms attests to this, in that it guarantees the right of accused persons “to be tried within a reasonable time”.

[2] Moreover, the Canadian public expects their criminal justice system to bring accused persons to trial expeditiously. As the months following a criminal charge become years, everyone suffers. Accused persons remain in a state of uncertainty, often in pre-trial detention. Victims and their families who, in many cases, have suffered tragic losses cannot move forward with their lives. And the public, whose interest is served by promptly bringing those charged with criminal offences to trial, is justifiably frustrated by watching years pass before a trial occurs.

(Check for commentary on CanLII Connects)

3. Sharif v. Canada (Attorney General), 2018 FCA 205

[30] However, it is appropriate in these circumstances that this Court go beyond what is minimally necessary to determine this matter and say a little more: see the discussion in Defence Construction Canada v. Ucanu Manufacturing Corp., 2017 FCA 133 (CanLII), [2018] 2 F.C.R. 269 at paras. 38-41. This area of law governs the relationship between the pressing imperatives of the state and the fundamental rights of inmates detained by it—an area where legal norms are best defined clearly, not left to uncertainty, speculation and later litigation. It is also an area where cases are often evasive of review because inmates do not often have the capability or means to litigate.

(Check for commentary on CanLII Connects)

The most-consulted French-language decision was R. c. Rondeau, 1996 CanLII 6516

Dans ce contexte, la mise en liberté provisoire ne doit pas être refusée à toute personne qui risque de commettre une infraction ou de nuire à l’administration de la justice, si remise en liberté, mais uniquement, comme l’expose le par. 515(10), s’il y a une «probabilité marquée» qu’elle commette une infraction criminelle ou nuise à l’administration de la justice et, enfin, seulement «si cette ‘probabilité marquée’ compromet ‘la protection ou la sécurité du public» (R. c. Morales, p. 737). Comme le législateur exige que la détention soit nécessaire pour la sécurité du public, «elle n’est (donc) pas justifiée si la détention est seulement commode ou avantageuse» (R. c. Morales, p. 737). Répondant à l’objection que ce critère repose sur l’hypothèse que l’on puisse prédire la récidive, alors que la chose est impossible, le juge en chef Lamer, au nom de la cour, dans l’arrêt Morales, souligne que la prévisibilité exacte ne constitue pas une exigence constitutionnelle et qu’il suffit d’établir la probabilité de dangerosité, qu’expriment les mots «probabilité marquée» au par. 515(10) Le risque sérieux de récidive visé par le législateur au par. 515(10) n’est que l’un des éléments pertinents à la solution du litige, soit de décider si la détention est nécessaire pour la protection ou la sécurité du public.

(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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