Our society has changed fundamentally ever since we collectively embraced the smartphone. The amount of information that we are able to store on these devices is limitless. As Justice Fish stated in the 2010 Supreme Court of Canada case of Morelli, "It is difficult to imagine a search more intrusive, extensive, or invasive of one's privacy than the search of a personal computer". These days the average iPhone or Galaxy owner stores practcally his entire life on his phone.
Quite frequently people end up in our offices charged with shoplifting, or what is known in Canada as the offence of “Theft Under $5000” under the Criminal Code. Almost without fail, these people have never been in trouble with the criminal justice system before. They have jobs, if not careers. They have families. They often are very involved in their communities. They have a lot to lose, yet they still decided to shoplift, despite not having a financial need to do so.
The Harper Government's latest plan to "get tough on crime" will be introduced to Parliament next week. What with an election brewing, the Tories have come up with another down home, folksy angle on appearing to be the only federal party prepared to save Canada from "the most heinous offenders". The new legislation proposes that for the most horrific crimes, a life sentence will henceforth mean exactly that: a sentence for the rest of the inmate's life.
Recently the Supreme Court of Canada released its long awaited, much debated and surely controversial judgement on physician assisted suicide (Carter v. Attorney General of Canada, 2015 SCC 5 (“Carter”). In the decision, a unanimous Court overruled their 1993 decision in Rodriguez v. British Columbia (Attorney General) ( 3 S.C.R. 519) and ruled that the Canadian Criminal Code provisions that make physician assisted suicide a criminal act are unconstitutional, and struck them down.
Clearly it was not Mayor Bill de Blasio that pulled the trigger that killed two of New York City policemen, but many of New York's Finest and their supporters are reacting as though the mayor has blood on his hands. When officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were gunned down in cold blood on a Brooklyn street in mid December, apparantly as retibution for the police chokehold death of Eric Garner, thousands of New Yorkers saw De Blasio as the source of the problem. When he spoke at Ramos' funeral, hundreds of NYPD officers thought it was fittting to turm their backs on him.
Recently, the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Fearon solidified the law in Canada regarding police searching suspect’s cell phones, without a warrant, when they are arrested. In this article we will not be reviewing the law as set out in the majority judgment. It is indexed as 2014 SCC 77. The bulk of the judgment relating to the substantive changes in the law is found between paragraphs 74 to 84.
December 6 is the day that Bill C-36, Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act comes into force. On that day, new Criminal Code sections aimed at combating prostitution in Canada come into effect. The new laws were passed in Parliament earlier this year. They were passed in response to the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in the Canada (Attorney General) vs. Bedford case. In Bedford, the court held that " it is not a crime in Canada to sell sex for money".
On December 2, 2014, a judge in an Alberta courtroom allowed a specially trained type of therapy dog, known as a trauma dog, to assist a young girl while she gave evidence at a sexual assault trial. This was a first in Canada. Later that week it is expected that her brother will take the stand to give evidence at the trial and the dog will be sitting next to him for comfort as well.The prosecutor in the case made the application to allow the dog to assist the child witnesses, and the accused’s lawyer did not oppose it.