The Supreme Court has held that the expanded rape shield laws are constitutional Pi News

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A person accused in a sexual assault trial does not have the right to snoop around with personal records such as medical files or personal journals in an attempt to discredit them, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Thursday. In 2018, the Central Govt.

The decision is related to appeals court rulings in two separate rape cases — one in British Columbia and one in Ontario — that both said changes to rape shield laws four years ago affected the accused’s right to a fair trial.

In a 6-3 ruling by the Supreme Court, a majority of justices disagreed, overturning those decisions and holding that the 2018 legislative changes to the criminal law were “constitutional in their entirety.”

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the accused the right to a fair trial, in which they are presumed innocent until proven guilty. The majority judgment did not say that it “guarantees the most favorable procedures imaginable to the accused.”

The court said that the rights of a complainant and the public should also be weighed against the fairness of the investigation.

“Ultimately, the right to a fair trial does not guarantee ‘the most favorable trial possible from the point of view of the accused’ nor does it guarantee “perfect justice,” wrote Chief Justice Richard Wagner and Justice Michael Moldaver jointly.

Rape shield laws began to appear in Canada more than four decades ago to prevent evidence of a complainant’s sexual history from being used to discredit them.

The Criminal Code states that evidence of the complainant’s previous sexual activity may be admitted only with the permission of the judge after a private hearing, and cannot be presumed to make the complainant less credible or more likely. agreed.

In 2018, the Liberals expanded the definition of what that evidence covers to include communications of a sexual nature, such as emails and videos, as well as documents about the complainant in the accused’s possession.

That latter group may include the complainant’s diary, her medical records or personal correspondence.

They gave a complainant the right to participate in a screening hearing with a judge and be represented there by a lawyer.

‘More needs to be done,’ the judges say.

Changes were suggested in the 2012 Senate Report. However, they were not introduced until 2017, when, after a high-level investigation by former CBC personality Jian Gomezi, he raised questions about the protection of personal emails sent by the complainant, contrary to his earlier testimony that Gomezi had not been contacted after the attack.

Under the new laws, those emails must be disclosed in the pre-screening process where the complainant stands.

The law does not give the accused the right to pursue an unfair or inappropriate cross-examination because they consider it their most effective tactic.

“In this case, the ambush of the complainants at the trial may be unfair to the complainants and may contradict the search for truth,” the conclusion states.

According to the judges, Parliament has made progress in balancing the rights of the accused with the public interest and the dignity, equality and privacy of the complainant.

“Statistics and well-documented complainant accounts continue to paint a bleak picture,” the ruling said. “The vast majority of victims of sex crimes do not report such crimes; for those who do, only a fraction of reported crimes result in full prosecution.”

In addition to the common myth that previous sexual activity is more likely to have convinced or persuaded the complainant, there are other similar opinions, the High Court said.

A person who approaches a psychiatrist is not trustworthy and fails to report a sexual offense immediately if it does not happen or the “real victim” will avoid all contact with the accused after the alleged assault.

Daniel Brown, defense counsel and vice president of the Criminal Lawyers Association, which intervened in the case, said the court ruling was disappointing. Significant amount of time for court proceedings.

Brown asked what to do if there are hundreds of thousands of text messages between spouses later in court in a sexual assault case: Should a judge listen to each message to determine the admissibility of one of those messages? Then is it relevant to self-defense?

“Examining specific messages, ‘Does it meet this broad definition of privacy that the Supreme Court has revealed?”

Brown said that by allowing a complainant to participate in the screening process, along with an attorney, the complainant in a sexual assault case can have access to information that can help them defend their case.

“This gives the complainant an unfair advantage that is not available in any other criminal case.”