Accessibility in Sentencing

As I’ve mentioned before, I read “What’s hot on CanLII” every week to find out what decisions a significant number of viewers found interesting. Sometimes, I make surreptitious finds that I like to share with you.

This week, the number 2 case was R. v. Morris, 2018 ONSC 5186. What was so significant about this case? It was written reasons for sentencing, provided by Nakatsuru, J. The importance of the decision is the language and the writing. Justice Nakatsuru wrote as if he was speaking directly to the offender. He used short sentences, plain English, and he explained every detail of how he came up with his decision and why he chose to accept some evidence even though the Crown objected.

This is not the first time Justice Nakatsuru has written in this manner. In R. v. Armitage, 2015 ONCJ 64, a decision of the Gladue court in Toronto, he also wrote directly to the offender.

I find this approach incredibly heartening. To me, it shows that justice is listening to offenders and not only taking into account their background, but explaining it to them so they can understand. In a law library like we have, we’re surrounded by works that require significant literacy skills to understand. Thank you to J. Nakatsuru for considering his audience while writing his decision.

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