The Intersection Between Mental Health and the Law

Assistant Chief Judge of the Provincial Court of Alberta Larry Anderson recently announced the creation of a specialized mental health court to better consider the needs of the large number of people who struggle with mental health issues and the law. For long time criminal defence practitioners, this cannot come soon enough. In speaking with CBC, Judge Anderson estimated that of the 150 new files which appear before the Provincial Court every day, 10-25% of the accused have mental health needs. In our opinion, this is an understatement. The frequency with which the criminal justice system and individuals with mental health needs interact is likely far greater. In this post, we explore some of the ways in which the lawyers at Royal and Company have seen those with mental health concerns come in contact with the criminal law. The most obvious way that this happens is when an individual suffering […]

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The Zealous Advocate in Sexual Assault Cases

As part of Royal & Company’s continuing commitment to ensuring our lawyers are up to date on developments in the law and the changing nature of advocacy, members of the office frequently attend seminars and conferences on a variety of topics. Kathryn Quinlan recently attended “Zealous Advocacy in Sexual Assault & Child Victim Cases” put on by the National Association of Criminal Defence Lawyers. This two-day conference focused on issues that arise particularly in cases of sexual assault and child sexual assault (or as it’s called in section 151 of the Criminal Code, sexual interference). Some of the topics reviewed included: challenging DNA evidence; cross-examining children; the effect of alcohol, blackouts, and sleep disorders on memory; and how to persuade juries of your point of view. Sexual assault trials can be some of the most difficult to defend, particularly in recent years with social and political attitudes surrounding sexual violence […]

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What is the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act?

SCAN is a piece of legislation passed by the Provincial government in 2007 with the stated purpose of empowering local residents to engage in monitoring their community and reporting activities which they think are adversely affecting their property. Homeowners or tenants are held accountable for allegedly harmful activities that regularly take place on or near their property. Because these matters are typically related to prostitution, organized crime, unlawful drug use, dealing, production, cultivation, and other related unlawful activities; there is at times overlap between those affected by SCAN and individuals facing criminal charges. Where this becomes concerning is that anonymous complaints against the tenant or owner can be made simply on a suspicion provided by a complainant who believes their neighbourhood is being adversely affected by the activities on or near the resident’s property. As long as the complainant states she believes the suspected activities are habitual and for a […]

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