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.
Gladue reports are pre-sentencing or bail hearing reports which take into account Indigenous offenders’ background on sentencing. They stem from a landmark 1999 Supreme Court of Canada decision. The University of Saskatchewan has developed a research database to assist Gladue report writers by making them easier and less costly to prepare. Access to the database is by subscription, which revenue will be used to hire students to update the database.
The new Gladue Rights Research Database provides lawyers, researchers and others with instant access to the insights and conclusions of more than 500 academic works related to the history of settler colonialism in Saskatchewan. It also includes a large and growing body of oral history resources and key archival documents.
Robson Hall at the University of Manitoba has developed a Gladue Handbook to help report writers in Manitoba.
This is a really interesting and exciting development for the protection of Gladue rights.
News release from University of Saskatchewan
Criminal lawyers take note. The founder behind Rangefindr.ca has developed a freely accessible site monitoring the status of various mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines.
The website it created, called MMS.watch, gives legal professionals a chance to check which mandatory minimum sentences have been challenged or struck down as unconstitutional.
For more information check out this article published in The Lawyer’s Daily