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This week at the SCC

|Written By Elizabeth Raymer

The Supreme Court of Canada will hear three appeals this week, the second of its fall session. All three appeals are of decisions in criminal cases, including an appeal of a Federal Court of Appeal decision on the use of prison assessment tools on aboriginal inmates.

October 11 – Alberta – Suter v. R.

Criminal law: The applicant pled guilty to the offence of refusing to provide a breath sample following a collision causing death. Suter had spoken to a lawyer who advised him not to provide a breath sample, and he followed that advice. The sentencing judge found as fact that Suter was not impaired at the time of the collision; he was sentenced to four months of incarceration and a 30-month driving prohibition. The Court of Appeal allowed the Crown’s appeal and imposed a period of imprisonment of 26 months.

Read the Alberta appeal court decision here.  

Related news stories:

Justice for Geo? Alberta's appeal court has harsh words and tougher sentence for Richard Suter; Edmonton Journal

Crown appeals Richard Suter's 'demonstrably unfit' jail sentence; CBC News

October 12 – Federal – Ewert v. R. in Right of Canada (Commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada, Warden of Kent Institution and Warden of Mission Institution)

Charter rights (Criminal): The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) employs certain psychological tests, to assess the risk of criminal recidivism and assess psychopathy in inmates. The applicant alleged the assessment tools were unreliable when administered to aboriginal inmates such as himself, and that their use violated rights protected by ss. 7 and 15 of the Charter. A Federal Court judge found the use of the assessment tools in respect of aboriginal inmates was contrary to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, and violated s. 7 of the Charter, but the Federal Court of Appeal held that the judge erred in law in finding a breach of the Act and a violation of s. 7 of the Charter.

Read the Federal Court of Appeal court decision here.  

Read the Federal Court decision here.  

Related news stories:

Judge orders Corrections Canada to deal with culturally biased testing of Aboriginal inmates; Aboriginal Peoples Television Network

Tests to predict if inmates will reoffend unreliable for aboriginal offenders, judge rules; National Post

Psychological assessments for aboriginal offenders may be culturally biased: judge; Vancouver Sun 

Related briefs:

When the Burden of Proving Institutional Bias Rests on a Prisoner; ABlawg.ca, University of Calgary Faculty of Law

Ewert v. Canada; Native Law Centre, University of Saskatchewan

October 13 – Alberta – Michael Shawn Bourgeois v. Her Majesty the Queen

Criminal law: Publication ban in case


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