Sociology 2253A/B Lecture Notes - Mens Rea

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22 Apr 2014

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Lecture Five Courts
Court structure: four levels of courts in Canada
Provincial courts
oHear the bulk of criminal cases
oTrial courts for summary conviction offences
oTrial courts for absolute jurisdiction indictable offences
oTrial courts for indictable offences where the accused elects provincial court
oConduct preliminary inquiries for indictable matters to be tried in the superior
oConduct arraignments (where accused enters a plea) guilty, not guilty or
oCourts that usually issue search warrants, summons, and arrest warrants
oSome provincial courts perform specialized functions (drug courts, domestic
violence courts)
Provincial superior court (supreme court)
oEach province and territory has supreme courts that they are responsible for the
administration of
oThe superior courts try the most serious criminal and civil cases, including
divorce cases and cases that involve large amounts of money (minimum set by
the province in question)
oSuperior courts have inherent jurisdiction (they can hear cases in any area except
those that are specifically limited to a lower court)
Provincial courts of appeal
oEach province and territory has a court of appeal or appellate division that hears
appeals from decisions of the superior courts and provincial courts
Supreme court of Canada
oThe SCC is the final court of appeal
oIt has jurisdiction over disputes in all areas of the law, including constitutional
law, administrative law and civil law
oAlso hears ‘reference cases’ where the government asks the court to consider
questions on (a) any important matter of law or fact, especially concerning the
interpretation of the constitution, and (b) the interpretation of any federal or
provincial legislation or the powers of parliament or the provincial legislatures or
their respective governments
oThe SCC consists of a chief justice and eight other judges, all appointed by the
federal government. At least three judges must come from Quebec. Traditionally,
of the other six judges, three come from Ontario, two from western Canada, and
one from the Atlantic provinces
Court actors
Defense lawyer is always a barrister, but may also be a solicitor--who is an officer of the
court that is tasked with representing the accused (cannot lie to the court ever)
Crown counsel an officer of the court who represents the people of Canada (the queen)
Judge is a lawyer of 10 years standing at the bar who is appointed to the bench; must
have a solid reputation
oOnce a judge is on the bench it is virtually impossible to get them off
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