This week at the SCC

This week, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear seven appeals, including a challenge by labour federations after the federal government shifted the EI surplus to general spending. Toward the end of the week, the court will look at a trio of cases relating to the Truth in Sentencing Act, which limits judicial discretion in granting credit for time served. The much-anticipated decision on summary judgments in Bruno Appliance and Furniture Inc. v. Hryniak is also expected this Thursday.

Jan. 20 — Quebec — Canada v. Confédération des syndicats nationaux

Civil law: In 2010, the federal government closed the Employment Insurance Account, which had amassed a surplus of $57 billion, and established the Employment Insurance Operating Account in its place. The legislation establishing the new mechanism erased the surplus, leading labour confederations to challenge the constitutionality of the initiative at the Quebec Court of Appeal. The attorney general filed an exception to dismiss on grounds the case had already been decided in CSN v. A.G. The Supreme Court will review whether the court should have rejected the motion to dismiss.

Read the Quebec Court of Appeal’s decision

Related op-ed piece:
Canada’s Employment Insurance surplus: Now you see it, now you don’t, Red Deer Beacon

Jan. 21 — Quebec — R. v. Auclair

Charter of Rights and Freedoms: In 2009, police in Quebec arrested more than 150 people associated with the Hells Angels. The prosecutor requested indictments against the suspects on 29 counts, including 22 of murder, one of conspiracy to commit murder, and others related to drug trafficking. The trial judge ordered a stay of proceedings for all charges unrelated to murder, on the basis the delays would have been unreasonable. The Crown’s appeal, in a majority decision, was dismissed. The SCC will review whether the majority at the Court of Appeal erred. A publication ban is in place.

Read the Quebec Court of Appeal’s decision

Related news article:
Calling new indictment illegal, Hells Angels refuse to enter pleas, Montreal Gazette

Jan. 22 — Northwest Territories — Yelle v. R.

Criminal law: Yelle was charged with sexual assault. Prosecutors argued he struck the complainant to facilitate sexual intercourse, but the complainant’s testimony contained inconsistencies. Ultimately, the jury found Yelle guilty of assault. Yelle’s appeal was dismissed by the Northwest Territories Court of Appeal, in a majority decision. Justice P.W.L. Martin dissented, arguing since the only explanation for the assault was to facilitate intercourse, it was unreasonable for the jury to acquit Yelle of one charge but find him guilty of the other. The SCC will review whether the majority decision was unreasonable. A publication ban is in place.

Read the Northwest Territories Court of Appeal’s decision

Jan. 22 — Manitoba — Koczab v. R.

Criminal law: Andy Koczab was acquitted of trafficking cocaine. The acquittal was aided in part by the trial judge’s exclusion of certain evidence due to a finding that the appellant’s Charter rights had been violated. During a detention, the appellant answered the police officer’s questions without being advised of his rights. The majority at the Manitoba Court of Appeal allowed the Crown’s appeal and ordered a new trial on the basis that the trial judge failed to apply the proper tests to his analysis. The SCC will review whether the court erred in reversing the acquittal at trial.

Read the Manitoba Court of Appeal’s decision

Related news article:
Big coke bust ends in acquittal, Winnipeg Free Press

Jan. 23 to 24 — Nova Scotia — R. v. Carvery

Criminal law: Level Aaron Carvery pled guilty to possession of cocaine and breach of recognizance. Before being sentenced, he spent over nine months in custody. The trial judge, as a result, concluded his sentence should be credited 1.5 days for every day in custody. The Supreme Court will review whether the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal erred in upholding the trial judge’s ruling.

Read the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal’s decision

Related news article:
Top court to look at early parole, pre-trial custody changes, CBC News

Jan. 23 to 24 — Ontario — R. v. Summers

Criminal law: Sean Summers pled guilty to the manslaughter of his infant daughter. The respondent was sentenced to six years and eight months, including a credit of 1.5 days for every day spent in pre-trial custody. The Court of Appeal dismissed the sentence appeal. The SCC will review whether the sentencing judge was correct in determining the credit for pre-trial custody.

Read the Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision

Related news article:
Cambridge man gets eight years for shaking death of infant, Kitchener-Waterloo Record

Jan. 23 to 24 — Ontario — Clarke v. R.

Criminal law: Clarke pled guilty to offences committed before the Truth In Sentencing Act came into force (on Feb. 22, 2010). The act, which limits the sentencing credit for each day in pre-trial custody to 1.5 days, states that limits on credit “apply only to persons charged after the day on which those subsections come into force.” Clarke was charged after this date. The Ontario Court of Appeal upheld the sentencing judge’s finding that the presumption of retrospectivity was displaced by the act, and dismissed Clarke’s sentencing appeal. The SCC will review the findings in conjunction with two similar cases.

Read the Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision

Related blog post:
The Clear Meaning of Words – R. v. Calvin Clarke, Canadian Criminal Law

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