This week at the SCC

The Supreme Court of Canada will hear three appeals this week, one civil and two criminal.

The Supreme Court of Canada will hear three appeals this week, one civil and two criminal.

April 16: Bela Kosoian v. Société de transport de Montréal, et al. (Quebec) (Civil) (By Leave) 38012
The appellant was arrested in the Montmorency subway station in Laval, Quebec for refusing to hold on to a handrail while descending an elevator. She was identified, arrested, and subsequently brought an action in damages against the Société de transport de Montréal, Ville de Laval and the arresting police officer. The Court of Quebec dismissed the action, finding that the respondents had committed no fault, and the Court of Appeal reached the same conclusion. At issue in the case is i) the standard of liability applying to the arresting police officer, who asked the appellant to identify herself and then searched her, and ii) the status of a pictogram in the subway station and whether the appellant was expect to have heeded it. Appellate court justice Mark Schrager, dissenting, found the respondents to be solidarily liable, but also concluded that the appellant had partially contributed to her injury in refusing to identify herself.

Read the appellate court decision here.

Related news stories:
Supreme Court to hear case of woman arrested after not holding escalator handrail; CTV News

She was handcuffed for not holding an escalator's handrail. Ten years later, she's headed to Canada's Supreme Court; Toronto Star

Related legal bulletin:
SCC to Hear Woman Arrested for Not Holding a Handrail; theCourt.ca

April 17: Her Majesty the Queen v. Sivaloganathan Thanabalasingham (Quebec) (Criminal) (As of Right) 37984
This case concerns an application of the Jordan decision. The respondent is a refugee from Sri Lanka and a permanent resident of Canada. He was arrested on August 11, 2012 and charged with second-degree murder in the death of his wife. His trial was scheduled to begin on April 10, 2017, at which time he applied for a stay of proceedings, claiming that his right to trial in a reasonable period had been infringed. The stay was granted. The Crown appealed the decision on the stay, but a deportation order was made against the accused three days later, and he was removed from Canada on July 5, 2017. The Crown continued its appeal of the stay of proceedings regardless; the majority of the Court of Appeal of Quebec found the appeal was moot, but chief justice Nicole Duval Hesler would have allowed the appeal, annulled the stay and ordered a new trial for the respondent. One issue in the case is the status of the respondent/accused should he return to Canada.

Read the appellate court decision here.

Related news stories:
Sri Lankan man accused of murdering wife in Quebec won't get new trial; CBC News

Deportation of man accused of murder cost taxpayers at least $17,000; Montreal Gazette

April 18: Her Majesty the Queen v. J.M. (Ontario) (Criminal) (As of Right) 38483
This case concerns the admissibility of after-the-fact-conduct evidence and instructions to the jury. The respondent was convicted of two counts of sexual assault. At a voir dire, the Crown sought permission to lead as consciousness-of-guilt evidence certain after-the-fact conduct establishing that the respondent had failed to attend court on his original trial date. In response, the respondent sought to establish that he failed to attend because his ex-girlfriend had terminated her suretyship and he was experiencing emotional and financial difficulties. The trial judge did not allow the respondent to testify at the voir dire and, ultimately, he admitted the evidence. At trial, the jury was charged on the use it could make of the after-the-fact conduct evidence. The respondent successfully appealed his conviction. A majority of the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and ordered a new trial on the basis that the trial judge did not conduct a proper evaluation of the evidence in deciding its admissibility, nor properly charge the jury on the use it could make of that evidence. Justice Grant Huscroft, dissenting, would have dismissed the appeal.

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