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SOC209H5 (126)
Chapter 6

SOC209 Chapter 6 Notes.docx

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Nathan Innocente

Chapter 6 (Week 9) The Criminal Courts • Four levels courts: provincial/territorial courts, provincial superior courts, provincial appellate courts, and the Supreme Court of Canada • Courts are responsible for: i. Determining innocence or guilt of accused persons ii. Imposing an appropriate sentence on those who are convicted iii. Ensuring that the rights of the accused persons are protected • Judicial independence: citizens have the right to have their cases tried by tribunals that are fair, impartial, and immune from political interference The Provincial Court System • In every province and territory, it has two levels: provincial and superior • Nunavut is the only exception: the Nunavut Court of Justice is a “unified” or single-level court (one type of superior court) Supreme Court of Canada Provincial Superior Court (Appellate Courts) Provincial Superior Court (Trial) Provincial Court Provincial Courts • Lowest levels of courts; nearly all criminal cases are begun and disposed of in them • Judges appointed by the provinces, which fund these courts and have jurisdiction over them • Provincial court judges sit without juries; they may preside over preliminary inquiries which are held to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant a trial • Hear cases under the Youth Criminal JusticeAct as well as cases involving alleged offences against provincial statutes • May also include family courts, small claims courts • Provincial judges now hear increasingly serious offences and are confronted with specialized populations Federal Courts Page 1 of 7 • Civil courts created by federal parliament • Appeal at the federal level – the “court of last resort” is the Supreme Court of Canada (Ottawa) • It hears cases from all provinces and territories • Governor in council appoints the 9 judges of the Supreme Court (3 must be from Quebec) • Federal Court (has a Trial Court and a Court ofAppeal) and the Tax Court Where do Judges Come From? • Judges at the provincial court level are appointed by provincial gov’ts, while judges of the superior courts are appointed by the federal gov’t • JudicialAdvisory Committee, composed of laypeople and lawyers, forward nominations to the justice minister • It is responsible for advertising judicial positions and screening applications, and for establishing a final list of candidates for the Attorney General • The federal gov’t also appoints all provincial superior court judges • 2/3 of citizens surveyed favoured electing judges Specialized Provincial Courts • Provincial courts are becoming more specialized which reflect the concept of “therapeutic jurisprudence”  criminal law and criminal courts can function as change agents to have a positive impact on clients’lives (using the law as a therapeutic agent) • Moving from an adversarial approach to responding to offenders who have addiction issues and to focus on treatment intervention and rehabilitation • Departure from traditional adversarial system of criminal justice • Expansion of the traditional adjudicative role of the judge to one of being a team player 1. Community Courts • Deal with low-level crimes (sleeping on the street, vandalism, assault) • Intent is to link offenders with social services and treatment resources • Offenders are generally assigned to complete a certain number of community service hours and an attempt is made to help them access treatment services and programs 2. Mental Health Courts • Address the needs of persons with mental illness who become involved in the CJS • Provide a forum to address pre-trial issues of the accused person’s fitness to stand trial and to reduce the “revolving door” syndrome of reoffending and involvement of mentally ill persons in the CJS Page 2 of7 • Diversion program to redirect mentally ill persons away from the justice system into treatment services • Lower rates of reoffending and violence than those who didn’t participate and complete the mental health court program 3. Domestic Violence Courts • Designed specifically to hear criminal law charges relating to domestic violence and to provide a mechanism for early intervention into domestic violence cases • 3 principles: i. Early intervention ii. Rehabilitation and treatment (counselling) iii. Vigorous prosecution (coordinated prosecution) • No weapons used and accused pleaded guilty  counselling/early intervention approach is used - As a condition of judicial interim release (bail) prior to sentencing, the accused is required to complete a program designed to teach non-abusive ways to resolve conflict - If program is not successfully completed or if offender reoffends, new charges are laid • In cases where the accused is a repeat offender  coordinated-prosecution is taken • Specialized investigations by police to obtain evidence, and the prosecution of offenders by Crown attorneys who specialize in domestic violence cases • Team of professionals (officers, counsellors, lawyers, judges, psychologists, etc… = multi-disciplinary team approach • Court gives accused the chance to participate in various treatment programs prior to sentencing • Victims are given support 4. Aboriginal Courts • Considering sentencing options other than incarceration, particularly forAboriginal offenders • The principle that the judiciary should make efforts to explore alternative sentencing options was established in R. v. Gladue [1999] i. Gladue Court (Toronto)  deals with cases ofAboriginal people; handles bail hearings, remands, trials, and sentencing; every attempt is made to explore all possible sentencing options; every worker isAboriginal Page 3 of7 ii. Tsuu T’ina Nation Peacemaker Court (Alberta)  Peacemaker working with the Crown counsel to identify cases that should appropriately be diverted to the community’s peacemaking program; cases identified are adjourned so the Peacemaker can open a restorative justice process and once it’s completed, the case returns to court where the judge considers the outcomes of the peacemaking process in passing
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