Reasonable Doubt: Appealing to the Supreme Court of Canada

It’s rare that lawyers go to the Supreme Court of Canada. So it is with great excitement that our firm just won a major victory—we were granted leave to appeal to our highest court. Even just being told that we can argue our case at the SCC is a cause for celebration, although we still have a long road ahead of us.

Reasonable Doubt: Representing yourself in court

Everybody’s doing it, why not you? Well, several reasons. Despite the fact that there is no dearth of information on the Internet to get you started and run your case, it can be really difficult to figure out what is important, what is not, and know if you’re missing anything. The legal process can be long and drawn and out. It can burn you out. The reason lawyers go to law school and spend years really trying to get their careers up and running is in order to learn how to narrow down what is important and how to get the job done properly the first time.

Nonetheless, it’s hard to make a living, especially in this city where the cost of living is so high. Not many people have the funds to hire a lawyer to run their case. I know that if I had to hire a lawyer, I wouldn’t be able to afford one right now. But only having limited funds does not mean legal disaster won’t strike. So what do you do?

Reasonable Doubt: Sweeping changes to traffic tickets in B.C.

So the B.C. government has come up with some new ingenious measures to cut down delays in the justice system.

The proposed method? Moving all traffic disputes out of traffic court and in front of an independent administrative tribunal. People would dispute their traffic tickets by phone.

A reader asked us what we thought of this measure. Rather than just telling you what I think about it, I thought I might explain a little bit about what it means to move traffic tickets out of traffic court.



Reasonable Doubt: The road to justice is paved with tough decisions

The long, horrible court ordeal for the family of Tori Stafford is finally over. Michael Rafferty has been convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping, and sexual assault causing bodily harm. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain and suffering of the family, to have to sit there every day and listen to the horrific details of what was done to their little girl. Despite the now-obvious fact that yes, justice is still well and alive in Canada, there was and still remains a lot of criticism of how the case unfolded.

Reasonable Doubt: Zen and the art of legal time management

I show up half an hour before the designated start time and it all begins to fall apart. The Crown counsel prosecuting the trial is too busy to talk to me, the only judge sitting has three or four matters from the morning court list that must be heard before my matter, and there is another trial set to go ahead in the courtroom at the same time as my matter. The lawyer for that trial is there and ready to go.

Things in the courtroom start rolling and I wait and I wait some more. At 3:15 p.m., I get to stand up and speak to the judge; he determines that my trial is going to be adjourned.

Reasonable Doubt: Doubling the victim fine surcharge is the wrong way to go

A recent story involving our Conservative government has caught my eye in a chilling way. Minister of Justice Rob Nicholson announced the introduction of an act to amend the Criminal Code with respect to the victim fine surcharge. The victim fine surcharge is imposed in addition to any other punishment for an offender convicted of an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada or the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Currently, the victim fine surcharge is 15 percent of any fine imposed (i.e. if an offender is ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, the victim fine surcharge is an additional $150 the offender is required to pay). If no fine is imposed, the victim fine surcharge is $50 for summary offences and $100 for indictable offences. A judge can waive the imposition of the surcharge if it will cause undue hardship for the offender. Reasons must be given when the surcharge is waived.

Reasonable Doubt: Your charter rights day to day

What exactly is the day-to-day reality of your rights and civil liberties defined by the charter? You know you have them, but when you’re faced with a moment when you’re being wronged contrary to your rights, how do these ideas, ideals, and values protect you?

They don’t.

Your rights as enshrined in the charter only carry legal weight after the fact. Such as when you were wronged badly enough to get you into court or you were dragged into court by the cold and icy arms of the criminal justice system.

Reasonable Doubt: Happy 30th birthday to Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

On April 17, we celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The charter has always been controversial. Its purpose is to tell the government what the boundaries are on its ability to make laws and pursue certain courses of action in relation to individuals. It only applies to the government and government actors (such as the police). The charter guarantees the rights as listed within it to all citizens of Canada. If a law is deemed to violate a charter right, section 52(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982, provides that “any law that is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution is, to the extent of the inconsistency, of no force or effect”.

Reasonable Doubt: How to find a lawyer who’s right for you

It will come as no shock to you that lawyers come in all types and temperaments—even criminal lawyers. But how do you go about choosing one?

First of all you have to find one. There are numerous ways to go to find one, but different methods will turn up different types of results.

Reasonable Doubt: Lawyer-client privilege not always clear-cut

One of the most important concepts in our legal system is that of solicitor-client privilege (which goes hand in hand with a lawyer’s duty of confidentiality to their clients). It’s highly important that lawyers hold client communications in the strictest confidence otherwise clients won’t feel safe enough to make full disclosure to their lawyers. Communications are subject to the privilege when three preconditions are met: 1) it’s a communication between a lawyer and client, 2) which entails the seeking or giving of legal advice, and 3) which is intended to be confidential by the parties.