Truth in Sentencing Act Fails Again

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For the second time this year, courts have found fatal flaws in sections of the federal Truth in Sentencing Act.  In April the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that judges could give 1.5 days credit for every day an offender spends in pre-trial custody when determining a sentence, despite the Act’s requirement that only one […]

Bench Press 39-1: The Facebook Factor

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A Nova Scotia judge has ruled that a plaintiff’s Facebook usage history data can be accessed by a lawyer defending a personal injury claim.  The lawyer was seeking the data under the disclosure of documents rule in the Nova Scotia Civil Procedure Rules.  The Plaintiff was alleging that her ability to concentrate was diminished by […]

Bench Press 38-6: Limits to “Mr. Big” Stings

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Police in Newfoundland suspected that Nelson Hart deliberately drowned his twin daughters but had no proof.  They began an elaborate hoax to recruit Mr. Hart into a fictitious crime ring. After about 15 months of activity, it culminated in a meeting with “Mr. Big” who was presented as the head of the crime ring.  Mr. […]

Bench Press 38-6: A Bride’s Worst Nightmare!

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Melanie Johnson arranged for a Calgary designer and tailor to make four bridesmaid dresses, a flower girl’s dress and a wedding veil for her October 2011 wedding, and to make alterations to her wedding dress.  As the wedding approached, the emails and text messages began to fly.  The bride received her wedding dress two days […]

Bench Press 38-6: Court Decision an “Earthquake”

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Both the land and the legal landscape underwent a transformation recently as a result of a Supreme Court of Canada decision.  The Court ruled for the first time that an Aboriginal nation has title to a remote piece of beautiful land in British Columbia.  The Court wrote: “The nature of Aboriginal Title is that it […]

Bench Press 38-5: Habeas Corpus in Modern Times

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The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled unanimously in favour of a federal penitentiary prisoner who challenged a prison warden’s decision to transfer him from medium to maximum security. Gurkipal Khela used the ancient writ of Habeas Corpus: the right to go before a court to challenge his or her detention.  The Supreme Court stated […]

Bench Press 38-5: Shakespeare in Court

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An Ottawa judge quoted Shakespeare when sentencing a 69-year-old sex offender recently.  The offender had assaulted his neighbour in her home after taking her out for a birthday dinner.  The Judge referenced Act 1 Scene VII of MacBeth: “He’s here in double trust. First, I am his kinsman and his subject, strong both against the […]

Bench Press 38-5: Some Bones to Pick

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Poor Richard III!  Shakespeare’s play portrays him as a villain and a murderer. Killed in battle 500 years ago, his remains were discovered in 2012 under a parking lot in Leister, England.  Another battle ensued about where to bury him. The Government had granted a burial license to the City of Leister, which planned to […]

Bench Press 38-5: Justice is Blind

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The Alberta Court of Appeal recently faced an interesting dilemma when pondering how to sentence a legally blind man.  The accused had been found guilty of sexual assault. He was legally blind and had used a guide dog since he was 17.  The trial judge feared for his safety in prison and worried that time […]

Bench Press 38-5: Balancing Work and Family

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Fiona Johnstone began a long odyssey through Canadian courts when she encountered difficulties in finding childcare for her two toddlers so that she could continue to work for Canada Border Services. A childcare expert testified that Ms Johnstone faced a very difficult work environment: different shifts at different times and different days including weekends, overtime, […]