Law Times

June 15, 2015

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Juror ruling prompts call to look at Criminal Code By Tali Folkins Law Times ith the Ontario Court of Appeal having ruled on jurors' use of extrinsic informa- tion in a recent case, the president of the Criminal Lawyers' Association says it may be necessary to amend the Criminal Code in order to get a better handle on the issue. "You can't say if jurors are or are not doing this at any level that is ap- preciable because you only find out in the rare case where a juror hap- pens to mention something," says Anthony Moustacalis. "Maybe jurors really do obey the judge's instructions. In my experi- ence, it seems that they generally do. But do I really know? The an- swer is no. Maybe they're Googling stuff all the time." The only way to know for sure and assess the necessity of any changes to the jury system, accord- ing to Moustacalis, is to amend the Criminal Code to allow research- ers to interview jury members anonymously about their experi- ences. "The fact of the matter is that people are people and they might not always remember the limits of what they're allowed to do or they might stray," he says. The comments follow the ap- peal court's ruling in R. v. Farinacci, a case that demonstrated the ease with which jurors can now find information about the defendant outside of the evidence presented during the trial. In their ruling on June 3, a panel of three judges re- fused to overturn the convictions of two brothers for possession of the proceeds of crime and conspiracy to traffic in cocaine. The brothers, Lucas Farinacci and Leonard Fari- nacci Jr., had argued their right to a fair trial had been compromised because jurors in the case, with the help of Google and other sources, had come across information about them that hadn't come up in court. The appeal came about as a result of a chance event at a coffee shop. Prior to sentencing but after the brothers' conviction, someone at the coffee shop overheard one of the ju- rors, in a conversation with a friend, mention that another me mber of Emond_LT_June15_15.indd 1 2015-06-10 2:47 PM Zero-tolerance conundrum Lawyers say pendulum has swung too far against accused in domestic violence cases By Tali Folkins Law Times he justice system has taken the idea of zero toler- ance in domestic assault to such an extreme that it's unfair to defendants and no longer works in the best interests of Ontario families, says a 40- year veteran of criminal law. It's an opinion, however, vociferously opposed by at least one lawyer who helps victims of domestic violence. Leo Adler, of Adler Bytensky Prutschi Shikhman, says the issue of domestic assault has become "political football" over the last 25 to 30 years with largely undesirable results. While Adler emphasizes he doesn't want to diminish the tragedy of family violence, he says the situation has now reached a point where police called to family violence situa- tions are unduly afraid to release the defendant even in cases that don't appear serious. "Nobody wants to be the person who says, 'O.K., I'm going to release you,' because you might be the one in a million or whatever the statistic is who might end up killing your spouse," says Adler. "In a lot of these cases, there's no sign of violence, there's no sign of anything having occurred. You simply have the word of the complainant. And the person gets arrested and I can tell you that again in the majority of cases, the police don't even bother to try to take a statement from the accused, usually the male. . . . They don't ask because it doesn't make a difference because they're going to arrest you no matter what." Bail hearings in domestic violence cases, he says, are "a l- ways run on the presumption of guilt" and, if the court does grant bail, it's generally under strict conditions with the de- fendant required to live with a surety. The result, according to Adler, is often a divided family with the added financial strain OBA LAUDED Association honoured for mental-health efforts P4 CAMPAIGN SPENDING Bencher candidate calls for expense limits P6 FOCUS ON Legal Innovation P8 'In a lot of these cases, there's no sign of violence, there's no sign of anything having occurred,' says Leo Adler. Photo: Robin Kuniski See Silence, page 2 See Bail, page 2 There's no way to know if jurors are doing their own research on cases, says Anthony Moustacalis. PM #40762529 & $#&!&jmmm$cYa[bbWh$Yec ntitled-4 1 12-03-20 10:44 AM $5.00 • Vol. 26, No. 20 June 15, 2015 Follow LAW TIMES on L aw TIMes T W

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