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Tag Archive: criminal law

Not Criminally Responsible Verdict Reached for Matthew de Grood

It’s not often that a judge finds a defendant not criminally responsible. It’s tough to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone was mentally incapacitated at the time of the crime, and a particularly difficult verdict to deliver in the face of grieving families who are looking to see justice done. But that’s just what happened in the case of Matthew de Grood, the 24-year-old from Calgary who stabbed five people to death at a house party in 2014.

Two years ago, young Calgarians celebrated the end of the semester at what was supposed to be a typical university party, only to watch the unthinkable unfold. Upon his arrival, de Grood grabbed a knife from the kitchen and killed young party attendees Kaitlin Perras, 23; Lawrence Hong, 27; Josh Hunter, 23; Zackariah Rathwell, 21; and Jordan Seguara, 22 in what appeared to be a random stabbing rampage.

While de Grood confessed that he killed these five people at the party, Justice Eric Macklin of Court of Queen’s Bench said he believed de Grood was suffering from a mental disorder at the time — making him not criminally responsible for their deaths. Macklin said he accepted the testimony from psychiatric experts, who found that de Grood did not appreciate that what he did was morally wrong.

In his closing arguments, de Grood’s defence lawyers said that Matthew believed he was protecting himself from vampires and werewolves. Before he stabbed the victims, de Grood reported that he heard voices instructing him to kill.

Throughout the trial, testimony painted a picture of de Grood becoming more and more withdrawn before the killings. During this time, he was also increasingly posting on Facebook about a number of bizarre, disturbing topics, including religion, vampires, Darth Vader and the apocalypse.

So what’s next? With this ruling, de Grood will now go to a secure psychiatric facility — much to the disappointment of the victim’s families.

Outside the courthouse, Miles Hong spoke on behalf of families, saying that they’ll continue to be broken as they wonder what consequences will befall the man that ended their loved ones’ lives.

This tragic case reflects a reoccurring moral issue in the Canadian legal system: how to handle crimes committed by the mentally ill, while delivering justice to victim’s families.

For more on this story, visit The Globe and Mail.

Featured image source: Canadian Press

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Ontario Asks Lawyers To Apply For Sexual Assault Advice Program

ontario_court_of_justice
The province of Ontario is officially looking for applications from lawyers who want to provide advice to sexual assault survivors, free of charge, under a pilot program called the Independent Legal Advice for Survivors of Sexual Assault.

This program will offer free and confidential legal advice to people who have experienced sexual violence, and it has been a part of Ontario’s plan to overcome sexual violence since 2015.

The legal advice offered to survivors will be customized to their individual cases and needs, and the aim will be to help them take more informed next steps. Lawyers will advise on all available options, including pressing charges, and all conversations will be protected by solicitor-client privilege.

Lawyers looking to apply have to be licensed to practice law in Ontario, and must have prior experience dealing with sexual assault survivors. Successful applicants will be trained, and then able to provide advice either in person or over the phone, but they will not represent those they advise in court. The Ontario government will be paying lawyers $136 an hour for their work, and they expect that the pilot program will be for survivors aged 16 and older.

The Ontario legal community is in support of this new program, and hopes it will make the justice system more accessible to survivors of sexual assault, as well as simplifying the scope of legal advice.

The program will be offered in Toronto, Ottawa and Thunder Bay until 2018, and lawyers have until April 15 to submit their applications.

Featured image source: weeklytimesofindia.com

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CLA Report: Women Leaving Criminal Law at High Rate

Criminal Law In Canada

According to a new report from the Criminal Lawyer’s Association (CLA), women are leaving the practice at an alarmingly high rate that exceeds the number of men leaving criminal law.

“Low pay, lack of financial support for maternity leave, and being treated differently than male peers by judges and court staff” were listed in the study as some of the reasons that women choose to leave the profession. The study also concluded that many women dropped criminal law after 5 years and few were practicing after 10 years.

Entitled “The Retention of Women in the Private Practice of Criminal Law”, this report was released during a CLA conference in London, Ontario this past weekend and was authored by Natasha Madon and Anthony Doob. Natasha is a postdoctoral research fellow from Australia’s Griffith University, while Anthony is a professor emeritus of criminology at the University of Toronto. They assessed stats from Legal Aid Ontario, the Law Society of Upper Canada, set up five focus groups, and surveyed 225 female criminal lawyers in Ontario to come to their conclusions.

Breese Davies, vice-president of the CLA, told CBC news that these type of findings have been reported anecdotally for years. She states “we all had impressions that women were leaving criminal practice at a higher rate than men, but we never had any numbers to determine whether or not our impressions were real.”

According to the study, in 1996, 47 women started practicing criminal law and by 2004, only 13 were still practicing “substantially”.

CBC also interviewed a number of women working in criminal law and they shared their experiences noting what an uphill battle it is to remain a woman in the field. To learn more about this report and about these women’s experiences in criminal law, read on at the CBC News website.

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