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CRIM 135 (159)

Crim 135 - Topic 7-8.docx

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Simon Fraser University
CRIM 135
Graeme Bowbrick

TOPIC #7 – THE COURT SYSTEM I. The Structure of Canada’s Court System  Publication ban – can come into court room but cannot release anything they saw in room 1. Provincial Court of BC (Trial Court) (a) General Features o Provincial Inferior Court - lowest level court o Trial Court (b) Responsible Government o entirely provincial authority over it – s 92(14) provincial responsibility to manage, operate, and appoint judges (c) Jurisdiction (Types of Cases it Hears) (i) Criminal o hears all summary conviction offences o very limited number of indictable offences o hybrid – crown decides whether it is indictable or summary conviction o conduct all preliminary hearings – whenever there is a indictable case, trial will not happen here, but will have preliminary hearings, crown convince judge they have enough evidence to go for trial o 90% of all criminal matters in BC – vast majority is summary offences\ (ii) Small Claims (Civil) o People suing each other for compensation, private law issues - if claims value less than $25000  “may hear” – has permission, not exclusive tho. – shared jurisdiction with BC SC  one can choose to go BC PC or BC SC (iii) Family & Youth o Issues around relationship breakdown, child custody, child support, etc o Criminal proceedings involving young offenders , including serious charges o Cannot issue divorce orders, no property issues 2. BC Supreme Court (a) General Features o Provincial superior court o trial court – but have limited appellate function – hear appeal from BC Prov court (b) Responsible Governments o established and operated by provincial government o federally appointed judges (c) Jurisdiction o “inherent jurisdiction” – authority is inherent, in the very existence of the court, does not rely on statue for jurisdiction  BC SC has jurisdiction over any case arising within BC, as long as it is not assigned to another court specifically by statue (eg, altho have jurisdiction, but not over summary offences because statue declare that it is for provincial court not supreme court) o All jury trials – criminal or civil – no jury trials in PC o All serious indictable offences, divorce proceedings, defamation cases 3. BC Court of Appeal (a) General Features o Appeal court (b) Responsible Governments o judge appointed by fed, operated by provincial government (c) Jurisdiction o hears appeal from BC SC – majority of their work o Reference case – government seek legal opinion from court, no real case – test the law before actually making the law – rare in BC, more in SCC 4. Federal Court of Canada (a) General Features o Federal superior court o Trial court (b) Responsible Government o All federal appointed judges, manage, operate (c) Jurisdiction o Jurisdiction is statutory, hear criminal case that violates federal statues o Not all matters arising from federal statues go to federal court – case under criminal law go provincial court, fed court hears SOME cases under statues eg trademarks, copyrights, immigration law o When someone suing federal government, can go FCoC, but of inherent jurisdiction can also go BCSC o Very limited and less significant power 5. Federal Court of Appeal (a) General Features o Federal superior court o Appeal Court (b) Responsible Government o All federal appointed judges, manage, operate (c) Jurisdiction o Hear appeals from FC of C 6. Supreme Court of Canada (a) Responsible Government o Federal government has jurisdiction to operate/appoint (b) Jurisdiction o Hears appeals from lower appeal courts (10 prov + 1 fed appeal court) o References: for federal government – seeking court opinion before making a move  Eg same sex marriage – violation of section 15 (c) General Features – appeal court of all of canada II. The Distinction Between Trial Courts and Appellate Courts 1. Trial Courts  Decision maker is one judge, sometimes judge+jury in superior trial court  Deals with two types: Question of fact (factual issues) – what happened? o What are the facts that gave rise to this legal dispute? They must deal with evidence and use it to figure out facts. o Three types:  Testimony evidence – from witness  Real evidence – physical tangible evidence, eg murder weapon  Documentary evidence – documents that records information eg paper, photographs, data files – we care about “what is on it” o If jury and judge, jury decides Question of law (legal issues) – what does the law say about this? o What does the law require to happen in these circumstances? o Judge interpret and apply law to a given case o Lawyers making argument base upon statues, precedents, etc o If jury and judge, judge decides Criminal trial - Crown (initiates case) vs Accused/Defendant respond to case Civil trial - Plaintiff (initiates) vs Defendant 2. Appeal Courts  Decision maker – panel of judges, typically 3 at appeal court, 7-9 at supreme court  Only deals with question of law – essence of an appeal is that you are arguing that the lower court judge/judges misterinterpreted or misapplied the law – error in law. Legal error.  Only legal errors are appeal-able – no more witness or evidence presented, because no more question of fact – now only hear legal arguments by lawyers based on law (legislation, case laws, etc)  Purpose is to oversee lower court and make sure they don‟t make legal error, if they do, appeal court can correct it  Distinction between trial & appeal ensures hierarchy in court system – natural law of attrition  Criminal or civil – appellant (person who initiates the appeal – could be crown or accused) vs respondent III. Other Important Features of the Court System 1. Burden and Standard of Proof  Burden of proof – who needs to prove guilt? o Person who initiates the case has burden of proof (eg crown or plaintiff)  Standard of proof – what must be done to prove case? How strong of an argument? o Criminal case- beyond a reasonable doubt o Civil case – proof on the balance of probability– barely tip the scale, more „probable‟ than not 2. The Open Court Principle (and Exceptions) (a) The Principle  Court proceedings is open to public – anyone, media, can go and watch proceedings – constitutional principle  To guarantee a fair trial, under public scrutiny, better decision making  Ensures creditability of process itself, credibility of outcome (b) Exceptions to the Principle (i) In Camera Hearings o When judge closes the courtroom, except to those directly involved with the case o Usually does not happen for entire trial, but may be more common for particular sensitive part – o Eg sexual victim child testimony – so not intimidating for victim, keep identity safe (ii) Publication Bans o Anyone can go in, but cannot share any details outside courtroom o Judge issues a ban on publication of certain details of whats being done in the courtroom o Will try to be sensitive to victim – eg common on sexually assaulted victim - no need for everyone to know their names o Some statue mandate this – eg accused 12-17 mandatory publication bans o Many murder cases- publication bans on preliminary hearings so can choose jury later especially for high profile cases o Applies to everyone, not just media TOPIC #8 – LAW SCHOOLS, LAWYERS & JUDGES I. LEGAL EDUCATION IN CANADA 1. History (a) Pre-1950’s  Apprenticeship, working with existing lawyers gain experience, become a lawyer after passing bar exam  Wasn‟t necessary to go to law school, more practice –oriented, non academic model (b) Post-1950’s  More academic model, law school become center piece of legal education/training  3 year law school – follow by a year of articling (work with lawyers and hands on training) – then pass bar exam 2. Admission to Law School (a) Opportunities  3 law school in BC out of 19 in Canada  Typical application admission ratio 1/10 – highly competitive  3 year degree – historically called LLB (Bachelor of Laws) – now called JD (Juris Doctor) o LLB very Britain model, JD is north American model – Britain can go to law school after high school thus law degree is first degree, but in NA, law degree is second degree after bachelors (b) Measures of Eligibility: GPA & LSAT  GPA varies – around 3.7+, will exclude some of the worst  LSAT – law school admission test – not knowledge test, measure aptitude –eg ability to very quickly read and comprehend, ability to engage in logical reasoning of various type, 4-5 hours – thdged relatively to everyone else taking that exam that day throughout north america, you get a percentile grade – should be around 80 percentile  What you learn in uni or what you studied does not matter for your eligibility to get into law school – law school teaches you law, so your undergraduate courses does not matter too much  they don‟t care because your LSAT means you have the intellectual ability to do well in law school (c) Categories of Admission (i) General Admission o 90% of seats, competitive depending on LSAT & GPA (ii) Discretion
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