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Supreme Court of Canada to release decision in police accountability case

Ottawa – On Thursday, December 19, 2013 the Supreme Court of Canada will release its decision in Wood v. Schaeffer. The BCCLA is an intervener in the case.

The case involves Ontario’s Special Investigative Unit (SIU), the civilian agency responsible for conducting independent investigations into incidents involving the use of police force causing death or serious injury. The SIU was created to address citizens’ concerns about having “police investigate the police.”

This case involves two separate fatal incidents involving the police. At issue is whether police officers who witness incidents that are to be investigated by SIU are entitled to obtain legal assistance when preparing their notes regarding the incident, and, if so, the nature of that legal assistance. 

The BCCLA argued that police officers who witness the use of force by other police officers have a duty to write independent notes and that those notes must be made immediately after the occurrence of an incident. This duty is central to the integrity of the criminal justice system and the public’s confidence in the police. An officer who witnesses a bank robbery does not seek legal advice before completing the notes his or her duty requires. The fact that an officer is under investigation should not alter this standard practice.

The BCCLA is represented in this case Andrew I. Nathanson and Gavin R. Cameron of Fasken Martineau.

The BCCLA’s argument in the case is available here >>

What:Supreme Court of Canada to deliver its decision in Wood v. Schaeffer.

When:Reasons for judgment will be delivered on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 6:45 am PT / 9:45 am ET

Where: Supreme Court of Canada (Ottawa, Ontario)

Who:Lawyers for the BCCLA available for comment