This week at the SCC

In its first week of hearings for the new year, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear three appeals.

In its first week of hearings for the new year, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear three appeals.

 

On Monday the court heard an appeal from a Court Martial Appeal Court decision that declared a section of the National Defence Act to be of no force or effect as it applies to members of the military charged with civil offences carrying sentences of five years or more. The case involved a corporal charged with sexual assault who argued that his Charter rights to a jury trial had been denied under the Act.

The remaining two cases, both criminal, concern a firefighter’s appeal of his conviction of theft under $5,000, and an appeal of an order for a new trial in a sexual assault acquittal.

January 14 – Federal – R. v. Beaudry

Canadian charter (Criminal): In July 2016 the respondent, Corporal R. P. Beaudry, a member of the Canadian Armed Forces, was convicted of sexual assault causing bodily harm by a Standing Court Martial. Section 130 of the National Defence Act provides that Criminal Code offences are service offences that can be tried in the military justice system. Before trial, Cpl. Beaudry had asked for a trial before judge and jury, but this was denied. On appeal, Cpl. Beaudry argued that s. 130 violated his rights to a jury trial protected by s. 11(f) of the Charter. His appeal was allowed. A majority of the Court Martial Appeal Court declared paragraph 130(1)(a) of the National Defence Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. N-5, to be of no force or effect in its application to any civil offence for which the maximum sentence is five years or more.

Read the appellate court decision here.

Related news stories:
Cases adjourned, charges withdrawn as military struggles with constitutionality of courts martial; CBC News

Court declares military justice system unconstitutional; iPolitics

January 15 – Manitoba – Fedyck v. R.

Criminal law: The appellant, a firefighter, was convicted of theft under $5,000, for stealing money and jewellery from an elderly woman he and several other firefighters found deceased in her home. The appellant’s coworkers found his behaviour at the scene suspicious and found large amounts of cash and jewellery in the pocket of his fleece jacket which he had left rolled up in the fire truck after first attending to the deceased. When confronted, the appellant claimed the money was his, along with the jewellery, which he intended to sell it. The trial judge rejected the appellant’s argument that there was a reasonable alternative explanation for the appellant’s possession of cash and jewellery at the time and entered a conviction. A majority of the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal.

Read the appellate court decision here.

Related news story:

Convicted of theft, Winnipeg firefighter aims to extinguish conviction at Supreme Court; CBC News

January 16 – Alberta – Goldfinch v. R.

Criminal law: The appellant, was acquitted on charges of assault and sexual assault. He and the complainant had been in a romantic relationship and, when it ended, continued to see each other for sex only. At trial, evidence of the complainant’s sexual history was admitted, pursuant to s. 276 of the Criminal Code, on the basis that it would provide context and help avoid an erroneous perception on the part of the jury that the relationship between the appellant and the complainant was platonic. The trial judge found that the evidence was relevant and had probative value that exceeded any prejudicial effect. The Crown appealed the acquittals, arguing that the trial judge was wrong to have admitted the evidence. A majority of the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and ordered a new trial.

Read the appellate court decision here.

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