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The Friday Brief

Friday, July 07, 2017 @ 3:20 PM | By Matthew Grace

Matthew Grace %>
Matthew Grace
Cristin Schmitz reports on today’s decision from the Supreme Court of Canada, R. v. George 2017 SCC 38. The Supreme Court has given guidance on prosecuting sex with minors in explaining why its judges threw out charges from the bench against a 35-year-old woman who had sexual intercourse with a 14-year-old she reasonably believed was over the age of consent. The court handed down reserved reasons for its 5-0 April 28 decision restoring appellant Barbara George’s 2015 acquittals at trial on charges of sexual assault and sexual interference.

On July 6 the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that in prosecutions for driving over the legal limit the Crown can rely on the Criminal Code’s s. 258(1) evidentiary shortcuts to prove blood alcohol concentration (BAC), even when police did not have “reasonable grounds” to demand the breath sample as required by s. 254(3) of the code. Justice Michael Moldaver’s majority decision is likely to be controversial within the bar, but it supports the long-standing legal status quo in most provinces, including B.C. and Ontario (but not New Brunswick), in holding that the Crown can rely on the evidentiary presumptions in s. 258(1), even if a breath sample was illegally obtained: R. v. Alex 2017 SCC 37.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould ignored the federal judgeship applications of lawyers and provincial court judges in nearly half of the country when she recently appointed her own deputy minister to the Federal Court in a move which has generated complaints of unfairness as well as thousands of real and perceived conflicts for the national trial court.

The Law Society of Upper Canada’s Alternative Business Structures Working Group ignited debate at the last Convocation before the summer break with a motion to allow licensees to deliver legal services through civil society organizations. The motion, presented by working group chairs Susan McGrath and Malcolm Mercer on June 29, recommended the direct delivery of legal services through civil society organizations, such as charities, not-for-profit organizations and trade unions in order to facilitate access to justice.

Sandra Kovacs’s column tackles the topic of advocacy for addicts in personal injury litigation. Kovacs writes that it is critical to not only understand the nature of addiction, but how it interacts with the client’s injuries and, ultimately, how it might affect the client’s ability to recover.

Matthew Grace is the Managing Editor of The Lawyer's Daily.