This forum is not purely dedicated to legal discourse. While I may attempt to 'raise the bar' with some pieces relating to law and being a criminal defense lawyer in Toronto, I also plan to use this blog as a medium to express my often critical thoughts on the daily grind that is life. Throw in some random videos and internet fodder, and the bar is sure to be lowered.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Ticketing Marijuana Possession More in Line with Social Norms

Toronto criminal lawyer Kevin Hunter says the ticketing of the simple possession of marijuana is a long-needed step in the right direction and is more in line with Canada’s changing cultural norms than viewing it as a criminal offence.
“It is my hope that we are ultimately heading toward a regime which treats marijuana much like the regulation of alcohol,” he tells “Confining the possession of marijuana within certain limits with respect to age, locale, and use prohibition, much like that of alcohol, certainly accords with changing cultural norms.”
Hunter makes the comments as the Canadian Press reports that the head of Canada’s police chiefs says there have been talks over the past year with a number of government members about allowing police to hand out tickets to people caught with small amounts of marijuana.
Members of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police in 2013 passed a resolution in favour of the option, says the article.
Association president, Vancouver Chief Const. Jim Chu, says there have been discussions over the past year but the decision is in the hands of government, says the wire service.
Hunter, associate at Edward H. Royle & Associates, notes that “it’s important to recognize that our top police officials are ready to accept that simple possession of marijuana is no longer culturally labeled as a true crime by a vast portion of the population.
“It is not insignificant that traditionally conservative groups, such as policing agencies, are finally prepared to acknowledge the futility in prosecuting simple possession en masse, even if their views are based on resource-based positions,” he says. “The time and money spent on enforcement, prosecution and even incarceration far exceed any social benefit that continued criminalization might bring about. We have seen a shift in the American example, even in light of the U.S. federal government’s long-standing, but ineffective, ‘war on drugs.’”
Hunter says issues will need to be resolved in Canada with respect to what specific amount will represent the cut-off line for treating the possession of marijuana as a “simple possession” vs. possession for other purposes such as trafficking.
“An arbitrarily selected cut-off line that’s too low would potentially render the ticketing regime impotent,” he says.
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Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Rob Ford Admits Smoking Crack

Below is a link to an Advocate Daily piece on today's admission by Toronto Mayor, Rob Ford, that he has smoked crack cocaine.
Rob Ford admits to smoking crack cocaine

The only thing I should qualify is that my comments about the prospect of conviction are based on an admission being the only evidence.  That admission alone would not be enough to convict in my opinion.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Effort To Curb Crime Laudable, But Carding Has Been Abused


The carding of citizens by police is troubling as it pertains to their Charter rights and, given the nature of recently published data in the Toronto Star, even more problematic for racial minorities, says Toronto criminal lawyer Kevin Hunter.

“As the recent data shows, people with black or brown skin are stopped and carded disproportionately more than their white counterparts,” Hunter says of the recently published Toronto Star investigation called Known to Police. “This sends an unfortunate message to members of racialized communities that they are being targeted by the police, an experience shared by many of my clients and their families.”

Starting in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Canadian police services began to stress the importance of intelligence-led policing, says Hunter, associate with Edward H. Royle & Associates and a former police officer. The idea, learned from police departments in the United States, was that policing agencies would benefit from the proper collection of data from the communities they serve. Through data analysis, Hunter says, “the police would be more effective in identifying community concerns, patterns of criminality and in making connections between potentially suspicious individuals and past or future crimes.”

As the saying goes, information is power, Hunter says, and the police aspired to be more powerful in their crime-fighting mandate through the use of carding.

“The message to the general public was clear — the police would take proactive measures to prevent and solve crime rather than strictly reacting to situations as they occur,” says Hunter.

In theory, this effort is understandable, even laudable, he continues.  In practice, however, “the data shows that the carding system has yielded results which may fairly be characterized as anywhere from concerning to systemically racist.”

Most concerning for Hunter is the evolution of carding from a secondary tool of information gathering for police, “to a primary instrument of arbitrary detention and search by historically recent branches of targeted policing.”

Policing agencies have developed specific units designed to proactively target particular communities, Hunter says, pointing to Toronto Police Services’ TAVIS unit. These units are tasked not with responding to calls for service, “but with engaging with members of communities deemed to be high risk or of particular concern to police.”

Experience has shown that these units use aggressive patrol practices that involve detaining members of the community, Hunter says. These practices are legally distressing to begin with, “but when compounded by issues of race, there is an undeniable tension between the public interest in crime prevention and the Charter protected rights of Canadian citizens of all backgrounds,” he says.

The fact that the chair of the Toronto Police Service Board has recognized the racially-charged dynamics of the police carding issue is encouraging, Hunter says.

“A new message is being sent to the public that the current racially disproportionate carding practice is unacceptable to the police oversight body,” says Hunter. “The real challenge will be to ensure the police are carding citizens based on legitimate suspicion of potentially criminal activity, rather than simply hunches based on skin colour.”

Original article at: