This Week at the SCC

The Supreme Court of Canada will hear three criminal appeals this week, in its last week of hearings until the Court resumes in September.

The Supreme Court of Canada will hear three criminal appeals this week, in its last week of hearings until the Court resumes in September. All three appeals are from Ontario’s Court of Appeal, involving drugs: Wednesday’s is a search-and-seizure case, while the two appeals on Thursday involve entrapment.

May 22 – Ontario  R. v. Omar   

Criminal law: The respondent was convicted of various firearms offences and of possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking. While walking down the street late at night with an acquaintance, he was stopped by two police officers and asked to identify himself. When one officer saw the barrel of a gun in the respondent’s pocket, he was tackled, the gun was seized and the respondent was arrested. A search incident to arrest revealed he was carrying four rounds of ammunition, and a search conducted at the station yielded a clear plastic bag containing cocaine.

The trial judge found that the respondent’s s. 8, 9 and 10(b) Charter rights had been infringed, but she refused to exclude the evidence on the basis that the police had acted in good faith and had not believed that they had detained the respondent. On appeal, the only issue was whether the trial judge had erred in refusing to exclude the evidence. A majority of the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and entered acquittals on all counts. In its view, the police had no lawful justification for detaining the respondent, they had no excuse for not knowing that they were violating his Charter rights and they were not operating in circumstances of considerable legal uncertainty. Brown J.A., dissenting, would have dismissed the appeal.

Read the appellate court decision here.

Related news stories:
Lenience sought for gun-toting man unconstitutionally stopped by Windsor police; Windsor Star

Man sentenced to three years for handgun and cocaine possession; Windsor Star

May 23 – Ontario – Williams v. R.

Criminal law: In this entrapment case, police acted on a tip to purchase crack cocaine from the appellant, Landon Williams, twice. Williams was arrested, and during a subsequent search, police found a handgun and a box of ammunition in his clothing, as well as a small amount of marijuana and two cellphones. He was charged with trafficking crack cocaine, possession of the proceeds of crime and various firearms, ammunition and breach of recognizance offences. Williams was granted a stay of proceedings but only in respect to the drug charges. The trial judge found that the police did not have reasonable suspicion that Williams was engaged in drug dealing. The Court of Appeal for Ontario allowed the Crown’s appeal and entered a conviction on the drug charges.

Read the appellate court decision here.

Related news story:
Legal battle over dial-a-dope operations may go to SCC; Law Times

May 23 – Ontario – Ahmad v. R.

Criminal law: In this companion case to the above, police received a tip that “Romeo” would answer the phone at a certain number and sell drugs to them. The appellant Javid Ahmad answered, and after a quick exchange, he and the undercover police officer agreed on a price, a time and a place to meet; the drugs were then sold to the undercover officer and Ahmad was arrested. At trial, Ahmad conceded that if he was found to be in possession, then he was in possession of the drugs for the purpose of trafficking, and he conceded that the drug was cocaine. The issue remained as to whether Ahmad had knowledge and control of the drugs, and he argued at trial that it was a friend of his who had sold the drugs to the police officer. The judge found him guilty as charged, and Ahmad then applied for a stay of proceedings on the basis of entrapment. The Court of Appeal for Ontario dismissed the appeal.

Read the appellate court decision here.

Related news story:
Legal battle over dial-a-dope operations may go to SCC; Law Times

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