‘Roving Punishment,’ Victim Surcharge Unconstitutional, Ottawa Judge Finds
Mandatory fine surcharges are unconstitutional, an Ottawa judge has ruled.
Ontario Court Justice David Paciocco found that the surcharge amounted to “cruel and unusual punishment” in the case of an addicted homeless Inuit man whom he had convicted of nine summary offences related to three separate “nuisance” incidents.
Judge Paciocco wrote that under a “reasonable hypothetical,” the mandatory victim surcharge would represent a sentence “so grossly disproportionate that it would outrage the standards of decency.” He found that Section 737 prima facie violates Section 12 of the Charter, the violation is not saved by Section 1, and the legislation is of no force or effect.
To force Shaun Michael to pay $900 in mandatory victim surcharges would be to treat Mr. Michael “more harshly because of his poverty than someone who is wealthy,” Justice Paciocco found. “It is more than merely excessive” and would be counter to principles of fundamental justice, including proportionality.
Paralegal Candidate Karen Fair summarizes a recent appeal, in which a matter was sent back to Ontario Court of Justice, over a jurisdictional issue.
A recent Ontario Court of Appeal decision considers the jurisdictional differences between the Superior Court of Justice and the Ontario Court of Justice when it comes to criminal summary conviction proceedings.
In R. v. D.M.E., 2014 ONCA 496, the appeal court considered whether the Superior Court of Justice has jurisdiction to hear, adjudicate and sentence summary conviction proceedings. In this case, the appeal court found that once the Crown elected to try the accused summarily, the Superior Court lost jurisdiction and the case should have been heard at an Ontario Court of Justice.
Tell Us What You REALLY Think – in the weekly SCOPE Poll
This week’s poll is about a fee increase, in exchange for access to the law library in your jurisdiction. Would you pay higher licensing fees?
Rush to Judgment? JP’s Comments Lead to Acquittal
A Toronto man convicted of speeding has been acquitted, after an appeal court found “reasonable apprehension of bias” in the trial justice’s comments.
In Toronto (City) v. Mangov, 2014 ONCJ 351 (CanLII), a justice of the peace had cut short a paralegal’s cross-examination of a police witness, suggested the defendant seek resolution with the prosecutor and “seemed to assume he was guilty from the beginning.”
Alberta Small Claims Going Up – $50k Limit
The Provincial Court of Alberta’s civil claims limit will increase from $25,000 to $50,000 on August 1.
According to the provincial government, the increase means Albertans will have greater access to the Provincial Court. Other changes will ensure more timely and cost-effective resolution of civil claims using a “more simplified and user-friendly process.”
Blind Justice: Service Animals & Ontario Law
Paralegal and SCOPE contributor Baruch Lipinsky summarizes recent Human Rights Tribunal decisions that affect service providers and people who use service animals.
In Ontario, blind people who are accompanied by their service dogs have been asked to leave stores, marketplaces and restaurants by merchants who are not aware of the difference between these animals and pets.
Visually impaired customers who are told their service animal must leave a premise may file complaints under the Ontario Human Rights Code (OHRC). Three such cases are: Hill v. Bani–Ahmad, 2014 937 (CanLII); Bourdeau v. Kingston Bazar, 2012, HRTO 393 (CanLII); and Schussler v. 1709043 Ontario Ltd, 2009, HRTO 2194 (CanLII).
“Jurisdiction” – Specific right, power or authority given to an adjudicator, to decide a legal matter.
Jurisdiction is an integral part of the justice system. If an adjudicator makes a decision outside the jurisdiction for the matter, that “jurisdictional deficit” means the decision is subject to appeal or review.
LSUC Webinars – Rules, Tools & Tips
A free live webinar and a recorded session are among the resources from the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) of particular interest to paralegals.
Register soon for “The Amended Paralegal Rules of Conduct and the Paralegal Professional Conduct Guidelines.” Learn what you need to know about Rules changes coming into effect this October.
The Solo & Small Firm Conference and associated materials are available online now. The June conference provided resources and practice tips just for licensees who work alone or with one or two others. For paralegals, that means the majority of active practitioners.
Professional Misconduct – Paralegal Licence Revoked
Mississauga paralegal John Blackburn has had his licence revoked, for professional misconduct.
The Tribunal found that Blackburn failed to:
- Serve two clients in a conscientious and diligent manner when he failed to attend court for the trials in their matters
- Deposit retainer funds received from two clients into a trust account
- Deliver an account to two clients
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