New decisions from the Supreme Court of Canada
The Society’s re-publication of this list of new SCC decisions will cease with the December 22, 2014, InForum issue.
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The following decisions were released on the Supreme Court of Canada Judgments website since the last InForum. The subject headings and summaries have been prepared by the Supreme Court of Canada. This notice has been prepared by Society staff in Library & Information Services.
December 12, 2014
Present: Abella, Rosalie Silberman; Cromwell, Thomas Albert; Moldaver, Michael J.; Wagner, Richard; Gascon, Clément
On Appeal from the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal.
The appeal from the judgment of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, Number CAC 410405, 2014 NSCA 63, dated June 13, 2014, was heard on December 10, 2014, and the Court on that day delivered the following judgment orally:
Cromwell J. ― In our view, it was an error of law in this case not to leave manslaughter with the jury notwithstanding the position of the defence at trial. The appeal is dismissed.
December 11, 2014
Present: McLachlin C.J. and LeBel, Abella, Cromwell, Moldaver, Karakatsanis and Wagner JJ.
On Appeal from the Court of Appeal for Ontario
Constitutional law — Charter of Rights — Search and seizure — Search incident to arrest — Cell phone found on accused and searched without warrant — Text message and photos on cell phone introduced as evidence at trial — Whether general common law framework for searches incident to arrest needs to be modified in case of cell phone searches incident to arrest — Whether search of cell phone incident to arrest was unreasonable and contrary to accused’s right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure — If so, whether evidence discovered in search should be excluded — Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms , ss. 8 , 24(2) .
Police — Powers — Search incident to arrest — Warrantless search of cell phone — Text message and photos on cell phone introduced as evidence at trial of accused — Whether common law police power to search incident to arrest permits cell phone searches — Whether search of cell phone incident to arrest was unreasonable and contrary to accused’s right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure — Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms , s. 8 .
Two men, one armed with a handgun, robbed a merchant as she loaded her car with jewelry. The robbers grabbed some bags, one of which was filled with jewelry, and fled in a black vehicle. The police became involved very shortly afterward. At that point, they had not located the jewelry or the handgun. Later that evening, they located and secured the getaway vehicle, and arrested F and C. During the pat-down search of F conducted incident to arrest, police found a cell phone in F’s pocket. Police searched the phone at that time and again within less than two hours of the arrest. They found a draft text message which read “We did it were the jewelry at nigga burrrrrrrrrrr”, and some photos, including one of a handgun. A day and a half later, when police had a warrant to search the vehicle, they recovered the handgun used in the robbery and depicted in the photo. Months later, police applied for and were granted a warrant to search the contents of the phone. No new evidence was discovered.
On a voir dire, the trial judge found that the search of the cell phone incident to arrest had not breached s. 8 of the Charter. She admitted the photos and text message and convicted F of robbery with a firearm and related offences. The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal.
Held (LeBel, Abella and Karakatsanis JJ. dissenting): The appeal should be dismissed.
December 10, 2014
Present: McLachlin, Beverley; Rothstein, Marshall; Cromwell, Thomas Albert; Moldaver, Michael J.; Karakatsanis, Andromache; Wagner, Richard; Gascon, Clément
On Appeal from the Court of Appeal of Quebec.
The appeal from the judgment of the Court of Appeal of Quebec (Montréal), Number 500-10-005019-110, 2014 QCCA 321, dated February 20, 2014, was heard on December 8, 2014, and the Court on that day delivered the following judgment orally:
Karakatsanis J. — This is an appeal as of right on a question of law. We agree with the majority of the Quebec Court of Appeal that it was open to the trial judge to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that the complainant would not have engaged in sexual relations had he known about the appellant’s HIV positive status. The fact that the trial judge also found that it was possible that the sexual relationship continued after disclosure, despite the complainant’s denial, does not necessarily render that first finding unreasonable. While it would have been preferable for the trial judge to more fully explain his reasoning relating to the complainant’s credibility, we are not satisfied that the trial judge erred in the analytical process set out in R. v. W. (D.),  1 S.C.R. 742, or that he failed to analyze the evidence as a whole relating to an ultimate issue. The appeal is dismissed.
December 9, 2014
Present: McLachlin, Beverley; Rothstein, Marshall; Moldaver, Michael J.; Wagner, Richard
On Appeal from the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador.
The appeal from the judgment of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador - Court of Appeal, Number 13/05, 2014 NLCA 14, dated March 11, 2014, was heard on December 8, 2014, and the Court on that day delivered the following judgment orally:
The Chief Justice — In spite of the able argument of Mr. Mahoney, we are all of the view to dismiss the appeal for the reasons of Hoegg J.A.