Reasonable Doubt: Police under microscope with B.C. Independent Investigations Office

Robert Dziekanski and Frank Paul are two men whose deaths at the hands of police resulted in civilian inquiries into police decisions and actions. The Braidwood Inquiry and the Davies Commission have fundamentally changed the way we police the police. As a direct result of these two inquiries, the B.C. government is establishing a new office, the Independent Investigations Office (IIO), which is responsible for investigating incidents where a person is grievously injured or killed at the hands of the police.


Reasonable Doubt: How lawyers are governed and disciplined in B.C.

Lawyers, especially criminal lawyers, come up against ethical and professional quandaries on a daily basis. No matter how long one has practiced, there will always be strange situations that come up where the lawyer will need advice and guidance on how to proceed. I wanted to talk about solicitor-client privilege this week and some of the ethical problems that arise but I realized I couldn’t do that without laying the foundation for how lawyers are governed and disciplined.

Reasonable Doubt: Who is Joseph Kony, and what is the International Criminal Court?

Recently, you may have noticed a particular video about Joseph Kony posted by your friends on their Facebook wall or received an email or text message blast with a link to the video. The video is part of the Kony 2012 campaign started by a nonprofit group called Invisible Children.

Invisible Children is working toward bringing Joseph Kony to justice for abducting children and organizing armies of child soldiers in Uganda. The purpose of the campaign is to make Joseph Kony as famous as your average to A-list Hollywood celebrity.

Waivers and hearsay explained

If you want your charge transferred from one jurisdiction to another, there are a number of caveats. First, the offence cannot be one listed under Section 469 of the Criminal Code (such as murder or treason). Second, you have to plead guilty—if you get a charge transferred and you change your mind, the charge gets sent back to the originating jurisdiction. Third, the attorney general must give consent for this to be done (usually in the form of Crown counsel).

Hearsay is any out of court statement that is being used in a trial for the truth of its contents. The general rule is that hearsay is inadmissible subject to a number of exceptions. Hearsay can be verbal, written, or implied (i.e. actions such as nodding one’s head or pointing a finger can be considered implied statements and count as hearsay).

Reasonable Doubt: What does Bill C-30 mean for privacy?

For those of you who have been living under a rock for the past week or two, Bill C-30 is the proposed legislation that will require telecommunication service providers to provide personal contact information of users to the police upon request. It also requires telecommunication service providers to set up their service in a way that makes it possible for communications to be organized, intercepted, and delivered to an authorized person working with the RCMP or CSIS.

Reasonable Doubt: Peace bonds demystified and online surveillance bill criticized

A peace bond is a court order designed to prevent a person from committing or recommitting a crime that has an aspect of violence (i.e. assault, uttering threats, and criminal harassment).[…]The peace bond information can be laid either at the outset of a matter or after criminal charges of another nature have been laid. If a criminal charge has been laid, Crown counsel can decide to proceed by way of a peace bond as opposed to continuing with the criminal charge. Crown counsel will look at all of the circumstances in making this determination. They will consider things like the seriousness of the alleged act (if the act giving rise to the charge is not that serious, a peace bond may be sufficient to address the harm done), whether the accused has a criminal record, if this has occurred before in the past, is there still a relationship between the two parties and what is it?

Reasonable Doubt: To exclude or not to exclude evidence from trial

Grant was a young black man who was walking down the street when he came to the attention of the police. Const. Worrell said that Grant stared at them in an unusually intense manner while fidgeting with his coat and pants. Given his suspicious behavior and their purpose for being in the area, they decided to stop Grant and see what he was doing in the area.

Reasonable Doubt: Dead time and other sentencing terms explained

Earned remission? Statutory release? Dead time? Alternative measures or diversion?

This week, I’ll continue explaining terms related to serving a sentence. My explanations are a simplified version of an extremely technical, detailed, and nuanced law.

Reasonable Doubt: Similar phrases, much different meanings

A conditional discharge and a conditional sentence order are vastly different sentences the court can impose when a person pleads guilty or is convicted.


Reasonable Doubt: A Charter argument can result in a judge throwing out evidence

How bad is bad? When a trial judge decides to throw out the evidence.

When an accused person alleges that one of their charter rights have been violated, it’s an uphill battle toward their desired goal—the exclusion of evidence obtained in the investigation resulting in a dismissal of the charges.