OSHAWA — A prosecutor has called for a prison sentence of at least a decade for a woman convicted of importing fentanyl, citing the “explosion” of overdoses and deaths attributed to the powerful opioid.
“There’s a fentanyl epidemic that’s exploding across the country,” federal prosecutor Josh Frost said during a sentencing hearing Tuesday for Jacinda Hudson. “And it’s killing folks.”
Frost recommended a sentence of 10 to 12 years for Hudson, who was convicted in August of importing fentanyl and possession of the drug for the purpose of trafficking. The court was told that Hudson, 35, of Pickering, received 323 grams of the drug via mail and was subsequently arrested by the RCMP in 2016.
During Tuesday’s sentencing hearing in Oshawa, Frost said a significant penitentiary term is necessary to show society’s condemnation for the trafficking of a drug that has been blamed for a mounting number of deaths in Durham Region and across Canada.
“It’s a national emergency,” he told Superior Court Justice Robert Charney. “There needs to be a message sent to the community that the courts will not tolerate importing this poison.”
Defence lawyer Sam Goldstein suggested a sentence in the range of six to eight years, citing the duty of the court to strike a balance between punishment and rehabilitation for Hudson, a mother of three who maintains her innocence.
“We can never lose sight of the possibility of rehabilitation, no matter how horrendous the crime or its consequences,” he said following the hearing. “Ms. Hudson certainly understands the case law indicates significant prison time. She is merely asking the court to bear in mind that one day, she has to return to society.”
Charney is to deliver his sentence Jan. 14.
This article was originally published at Durham Region on Tuesday, November 27, 2018 | By Jeff Mitchell.
As I have detailed on these pages, our first prime minister, John A. Macdonald, honed his famous oratorical skills in the courtroom when he began his career as a criminal lawyer (John A. Macdonald at the [other] bar, Jan. 11). He was well on his way to becoming a real-life Atticus Finch until he took over the commercial practice of a leading Kingston lawyer upon the man’s sudden death. After that, Macdonald used his lawyering skills only to triumph in the court of public opinion. Criminal law was Sir John A.’s profession, but politics was his vocation.
Not so for our 13th prime minister. John G. Diefenbaker saw criminal law as both his profession and his vocation. And one cannot understand the man’s political career without understanding what made him tick as a lawyer. From The Bill of Rights to his decision to commute Steven Truscott’s death sentence to life, his actions as prime minister from 1957-1963 were rooted in his early career as a criminal lawyer.
In the summer of 1919, a young Diefenbaker, still wet behind the ears from law school, decided to set up his legal practice in the small prairie town of Wakaw, Sask. It was a decision not without thought. Dief confessed to his biographer that he had perused the town’s court dockets and concluded its inhabitants were quite litigious.
He was proved correct. Within two months of setting up his legal practice, a farmer, John Chernyski, retained the novice lawyer to defend him against a charge of criminal negligence for shooting a young boy who trespassed across his property.
Upon his arrest, Chernyski told the police he had been awakened early in the morning by the barking of his farm dogs. He had then grabbed his shotgun and fired at what he thought was a fox his animals had cornered. It was, in fact, a child.
Diefenbaker successfully argued that his client could not see the boy in the early morning light because his vision had not yet adjusted from leaving his well-lit house.
Word quickly spread of the young advocate’s creative defence and commanding courtroom presence. Soon Diefenbaker was inundated with criminal trials. Whether it was defending a murder charge with a convoluted story of self-defence (R. vs. Bourdon), or getting a murder confession tossed out on the basis of the feeble-mindedness of his client (R. vs. Olson), Diefenbaker mesmerized his juries with the use of his dramatic voice, his penetrating azure eyes and a raised right arm with accusatory finger pointing at some distant enemy. He would use the same dramatic techniques all his life to mesmerize the Canadian people into voting for the Progressive Conservative Party.
No criminal lawyer has a perfect record. Diefenbaker had his fair shares of losses. Perhaps the hardest for him was his miscalculation in R. vs. Wysochan. It was a sordid murder case involving a husband (Dief’s client Alex Wysochan) brandishing a revolver and threatening to shoot his wife’s lover in her presence. The cowardly lover jumped out of a window, reporting later that he had heard four shots. The wife ended up dead. Diefenbaker rejected an easy defence of intoxication that would have reduced his client’s charge to manslaughter; instead, he argued it was the lover who had killed the wife. On June 20, 1930, Alex Wysochan was hanged in the Prince Albert prison, protesting his innocence from the gallows.
Diefenbaker recalled in a CBC interview that it was his direct experiences as a criminal lawyer that brought him to oppose the death penalty. Many know that Steven Truscott was wrongly convicted of the murder of Lynne Harper. But few know it was Diefenbaker who granted him a reprieve.
Three years after the Chernyski case, Diefenbaker earned himself the reputation as a defender of minority rights. He successfully assisted Saskatchewan’s small French-speaking community fight legislation requiring English as the sole language of instruction.
It was a dangerous case to take in Saskatchewan’s anti-French and anti-Catholic political climate — but take it he did precisely because he was offended by the law’s discriminatory nature. It was this same sense of outrage against discrimination that fuelled Diefenbaker’s passionate defence of his treasured Bill of Rights.
Criminal law taught Deifenbaker when to seize the moment and press his advantage. On one occasion he defended a telegraph operator charged with manslaughter for failing to warn a conductor of an oncoming troop train carrying Canadian soldiers to the Korean War. At one point, the prosecutor — a retired Canadian colonel by the name of Pepler — clumsily responded to a Diefenbaker objection by barking that the case was not “about the death of a few privates going to Korea.” The jury was visibly shocked at his perceived callousness. What he meant to say was that the telegraph operator was technically charged with the single death of a CNR employee and not with the deaths of the 17 soldiers who perished in the tragedy. Nevertheless, Diefenbaker turned the jury against Pepler by never missing a chance to remind the jury of his military antecedents. Diefenbaker won the case.
Diefenbaker was just as sharp seven years later when a newly minted Liberal leader by the name of Mike Pearson stood in the house and demanded that Diefenbaker’s government resign for its mishandling of the economy — meaning the reins of power be handed back to the Liberals without an election. Diefenbaker knew immediately he had his election issue. He pounded the Liberals for their arrogance for 10 days before dissolving parliament and, much like in 2011, the Conservatives returned with a commanding majority.
Unfortunately, Diefenbaker’s cunning failed him in 1966. As a young lawyer back in Wakaw in 1923, he knew how to spot and how to deal with the enemy. When in 1923 a big-city law firm from Prince Albert sent over an articling student to set up a law office in Wakaw — a student who started romancing Dief’s corporate clients — Diefenbaker immediately reported them to the Law Society for allowing their student to practise unsupervised. But he never saw Dalton Camp’s betrayal at the 1966 convention coming. His own party president asked for a leadership review behind the great man’s back. He lost and was replaced by Robert Stanfield.
If only Diefenbaker had been as guileful a politician as he was a lawyer.
This article was originally published at National Post on Wednesday, January 18, 2012 @ 7:30 AM | By Sam Goldstein.
(November 23, 2018, 2:36 PM EST) — Do we need to make Canadian laws easier for people to commit suicide when they are terminally ill?
Audrey Parker, who took her own life in late October, thought so. The 57-year-old Haligonian and former image consultant had advocated that the two-year old assisted-suicide law be amended to allow the terminally ill to pre-approve assistance ending their lives.
Ms. Parker is quoted as stressing that the law had to be changed because anyone approved for medically assisted death must be conscious and mentally sound at the moment they grant their final consent for lethal injection.
She pointed out that she would have been denied her wish to end her life with medical assistance if she had been incapacitated by her advanced illness of the pain medication she was taking.
“Dying is a messy business,” she said.
Should parliamentarians accede to her request dying will become all that messier. The Counsel of Canadian Academics is submitting three reports to a parliamentary subcommittee studying the matter this December in favour of the issue.
Requiring a terminally ill person be conscious and of sound mind when consent is given was included in the legislation to protect the vulnerable. Allowing for the terminally ill to pre-approve their euthanasia opens the doors for the archetypical greedy children encouraging mom or dad to hand over their inheritance earlier rather than later. It precludes the dying from taking advantage of medical advances. A few years ago, AIDS was a death sentence; now people can live out their natural lives. It would not be moral to follow a person’s lethal instructions made yesterday when a cure is available today.
This is not the only assault on euthanasia fighting for easier access. Despite the public’s sympathy over the senseless and sad suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade this year, assisted suicide advocates to want the existing law to include chronic depression.
Listening to the public discussion on euthanasia requires a good session of mental flossing afterward.
There is no “Right to Die” as advocates often are fond of saying. Suicide was never a crime in Canada. Asking another person to help you exposed that person to culpable homicide. The Supreme Court of Canada’s Carter v. Canada 2016 SCC 4 decision eliminated that exposure by carving out an exception to allow adults with grievous and irremediable conditions to have physician-assisted suicides.
Ms. Parker would have been at liberty: To ask for help in committing suicide; to choose the time and place to end her life; and, to choose her means.
She passed peacefully in her own home by her own hand. And if she was concerned that her disease physically debilitated her from taking her own life and physically prevented her from any form of communicating her instructions, she could have arranged her affairs to include a “Do Not Resuscitate Order” or any other preventative directive that would have prolonged her life.
George Grant, one of Canada’s and the world’s deepest thinkers, located the origin of this debate as a problem of modernity. Technology gives us the ability to shape our world, but it cannot tell us whether it is good to do so. By limiting ourselves to asking whether we can, those on the side of progress align themselves with the side that answers yes.
In so doing, he wrote, technology becomes tyrannical, coming cozily and on cat’s feet “with the denial of the rights of the aged, the denial of the rights of the mentally retarded, the insane, and the economically less-privileged, it will come with the denial of rights to all those who cannot defend themselves.”
This article was originally published at Lawyer’s Daily on Friday, November 23, 2018 @ 2:36 PM | By Sam Goldstein.
On October 17, 2018, recreational cannabis was legalized in Canada under the Cannabis Act. There are now strict rules in place to govern the production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis. If you are not familiar with these new rules, you may find yourself being charged with a drug offence. So, here are some things that are still illegal though cannabis has been legalized:
Possession of an excessive amount of marijuana
While you can possess marijuana for recreational use, you are not allowed to have an unlimited amount. Each person is only allowed to have 30 grams of dried cannabis in his or her possession at any given time. For fresh cannabis, you can legally possess up to 150 grams. If you have cannabis seeds you are allowed to have 30 seeds as each seed is considered as an ounce.
Having more than four cannabis plants
You are now allowed to have a few home-grown cannabis plants for personal use unless you are living in Quebec or Manitoba. In Quebec and Manitoba, it is still illegal to grow any cannabis at home. In the rest of Canada, you are allowed to grow up to 4 cannabis plants. If you live with someone else, note that the law allows for 4 plants per household, not 4 plants per person.
Possession of a budding or flowering cannabis plant in public
Yes, the law allows you to have a few cannabis plants, but you may find yourself in legal trouble if you are found in possession of a flowering or budding plant in public. You can still move your plants from one location to another; as long as you ensure they do not have any buds or flowers. A budding or flowering plant in public could land you in prison for up to 5 years.
Selling marijuana without a without a licence
If you want to sell marijuana, you will need to have a licence to do so. You may, however, give marijuana away for free. This marijuana must be dried and be 30 grams or less.
Distributing marijuana to a minor
If you decide to share your cannabis with someone who is a minor, it is a crime. Committing such an offence could mean spending up to 14 years in prison.
Possessing illicit cannabis
Cannabis, even in legal amounts, is illicit if it is produced, sold or distributed by someone without the legal authorization to do so. Therefore, if you bought marijuana from an unlicensed distributor or if you got it from a minor or someone with more than the allowed number of plants, you are committing a crime.
Importing or exporting cannabis without authorization
If you are planning to take a trip outside of Canada, do not pack your cannabis. It is still illegal to travel internationally with or to ship cannabis unless you have a licence to import or export the product.
Do you need a drug charges lawyer in Toronto for any drug-related offence?
These are just some of the grey areas that have been created since the legalization of cannabis. If you found yourself in legal trouble for a drug offence, our drug charges lawyer, Sam Goldstein, can help. If you already have a drug conviction, Sam Goldstein will fight to have that conviction overturned through appeal. So, contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of Toronto’s most experienced drug charges lawyer. Let him help you avoid having a drug conviction on your record.