Monday, March 30, 2009

Youth justice procedures in Canada

A Supreme Court of Canada case, abundant in citations of authors and cases, and with 12 counsel appearing, deals with aspects of youth justice: R v SJ L-G [2009] SCC 14 (27 March 2009).

The case establishes that when young persons are jointly charged with adults, young persons are nevertheless tried in the youth court, as there is a statutory separation of trial systems. Whereas the purpose of the adult courts is to emphasise the need for punishment, youth courts favour rehabilitation, reintegration and fair and proportionate accountability.

Further, there is no constitutional right to a preliminary hearing, which is only a screening mechanism. A preliminary hearing is distinct from discovery, and absence of a preliminary hearing does not impair the right to discovery.

The case is largely an exercise in statutory interpretation, so is not of great interest in jurisdictions where legislation differs.

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