Trial trauma…

Nov 8, 2016

Toronto Star – Diana Mehta, Canadian Press
 Case of juror in Tori Stafford murder trial seeking compensation goes to Appeal Court

A 57 year old woman juror in the Tori Stafford case says that as a result of her participation in the trial, the brutal murder of an 8 year old in Woodstock, she has acquired PTSD and wants to be compensated as a victim of crime, expanding the notion of who and how one becomes a victim.  The case, rejected by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board and the Divisional Court, now goes to the Court of Appeal for Ontario.  The case follows another in which a juror was given compensation for professional counselling after a similarly brutal trial.   Related article: CBC News   Traumatized Ontario jurors get new program for free counselling- Attorney general says Juror Support Program will be in place by January

National Newswatch – Canadian Press
Federal Court dismisses bid to stop feds revoking citizenship without a hearing

Refugee lawyers brought a lawsuit to court to stop the federal government from exercising the potential to deny and revoke citizenship without any hearing if granted under false information.  Federal court has rejected the suit raising concerns over the citizenship status of federal Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef.  The matter is now under constitutional challenge and in the interim the Federal Court is granting stays to anyone who applies.

The Sentencing Project (US)
Analysis finds people with felony convictions would cast nearly 60K ballots in this election

In most US states, a felony conviction leads to political disenfranchisement – felons cannot vote.  The stats in Florida are horrendous but likely not exceptional.  There are an estimated 6.1 million disenfranchised voters in the US of which 1.7 million live in Florida.  The numbers are such that were the disenfranchised to jump through the hoops successfully the number could impact the outcome of elections of all sorts.  The report offers a similar analysis on other states as well.

Canadian Lawyer Legal Feeds – Elizabeth Raymer
Trinity Western fight likely heading to Supreme Court

Trinity Western offers a law degree but expects its students to affirm a moral code that bans sex outside heterosexual marriage and bans abortion. The various professional legal societies across Canada have weighed in on the legitimacy of the law degree Trinity Western grants, and likewise some of the provincial appeal courts in BC and Nova Scotia.  Next step is the Supreme Court of Canada.

Canadian Lawyer – Michael Spratt
Trudeau’s government should act on promises of justice reform

There have been a number of criminal code reversals announced by the Liberal government on justice issues that formed part of the tough-on-crime agenda of the previous Conservative government.  Spratt is drawing attention to the expressed desire of Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould for a better restorative justice informed revision of the system, delivered at the Spokina Lecture a month ago at the Criminal Lawyers Association meeting.  But, says Spratt, the words and actions do not overlay, witness continuing prosecution under marijuana, continuing mandatory minimums and even the solitary confinement issues, all of which are within the power of the Justice Minister to curtail by instructions to federal prosecutors.  Spratt thinks the means for change is not so much missing as the will to change.

Common Dreams (US) – Andrea Germanos
To Reduce Prison Population, Invest in Public Mental Health, New Study Says – ‘It is well known that U.S. prisons and jails have become de facto mental health facilities’

US mass incarceration suffers from a high ratio of mentally ill inmates, to the point that many suggest they are really the contemporary mental hospital.  This study is suggesting a return on every dollar spent on community mental health by a corresponding reduction in prison population.  Added to the counter-therapeutic context and even danger within prisons, the gap in the treatment cries out for redress.

Le Devoir (Montreal) – Catherine Marciano – Agence France-Presse au Vatican (Article in French)

About 1000 inmates in Italy’s prisons, mostly from 12 foreign countries were brought to the Vatican under discrete guard for the celebration of mass with Pope Francis.  Francis asked for a reduction in the sentences and better prison conditions for the inmates.  The event included victim-offender mediation and even reconciliation between offenders and their victims.