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So started the judgement of the Ontario Court of Appeal in the recent case of R v Singh.  Rather clear and direct I would think, but the first trial judge, although in agreement with the conclusion that illegal beatings took place did not grant a stay for "Abuse of Process."  This case illustrates the difference between conduct that may affect the fairness of a trial, and conduct that, simply put, puts the whole system of justice into disrepute.

The acknowledged beating of the accused was put through the analysis of "abuse of process" doctrine.  Ending trials because of abuse of process is something that the courts have concluded must be allowed only in the clearest of cases; and when the fairness of the trial has not only been hindered, but to continue on would be continue the unfairness of the trial to the accused.  The lower level court agreed that the beating was terrible, but it did not feel that going to trial would be to continue to create an unfairness about the process.

The appeal court decided the issue differently and more fairly, more humanely.  It distinguished that there are two types of abuse of process: those things so untoward as to render the trial unfair; and those things so repugnant as to bring the entire system of justice into disrepute.  They found that such flagrant disregard for the rules of prisoner detention and the rule of law, required the administration of justice to distance itself from such behaviour; to denounce it and stay the charges.  This is known as the "Residual Category" of judicial discretion that allows a judge to stay a process outside of the normal parameters of abuse of process doctrine.  The case is important to know when facings police misconduct.  You can read it here: R v Singh.  I can find no better way to sum up the courts conclusion that quoting from paragraphs 43 and 44:  *(* note that the officers are currently disputing the findings of the court)

Police Brutality

[43] What occurred here was not a momentary overreaction by a police officer caught up in the moment of a difficult interrogation. What occurred here was the administration of a calculated, prolonged and skillfully choreographed investigative technique developed by these officers to secure evidence. Thistechnique involved the deliberate and repeated use of intimidation, threats and violence, coupled with what can only be described as a systematic breach of the constitutional rights of detained persons – including the denial of their rights to counsel.2 It would be naïve to suppose that this type of egregious conduct, on the part of these officers, would be confined to an isolated incident.

[44] The courts must not condone such an approach to interrogation. Real life in the police services is not a television drama. What took place here sullies the reputations of the many good officers in our country, whose work is integral to the safety and security of our society.

Police Brutality can Cause Disrepute to Notions of Justice in Canada

Lawrence Forstner, Criminal Lawyer in Oshawa, Expert Qualifications and Specialized Training:
Former Crown Attorney;  Former Probation & Parole Officer;  Ontario Domestic Assault Risk Assessment (ODARA), Sex Offender Risk Assessment, Strategic Initiatives in Community Supervision (STICS), Sex Offender Relapse Prevention, Substance Use / Anger Management Group Leader/ Trainer.   ( )

Forstner Law

Justice System Disrepute

Canadian society cannot tolerate – and the courts cannot permit – police officers to beat suspects in order to obtain confessions. Yet, sadly, that is precisely what happened in this case. One of the two police officers who participated in the beatings apparently thought, as he said, that “it’s part of [his] job” to do so.

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