August 11, 2020

R. v. Langan - Leave to Intervene at SCC

CDAS has been granted intervenor status by the Supreme Court of Canada for the upcoming case of R. v. Langan. CDAS will be intervening on the issue of section 276 applications applying to Crown evidence. 

The CDAS Executive approves applications for interventions on behalf of the Society, the costs of which are often borne by the lawyers themselves. CDAS wishes to thank Eric Purtzki, who will be representing CDAS at the SCC in R. v. Langan.

June 18, 2020

R. v. Zora - Successful SCC Intervention

CDAS is pleased to advise its members of its successful intervention at the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Zora, 2020 SCC 14, a watershed case dealing with the law of bail.


CDAS was represented at the Supreme Court by Matthew Nathanson and Chantelle van Wiltenburg, in consultation with Tony Paisana and Jeff Campbell Q.C. (now Judge Campbell of the B.C. Provincial Court).


The main issue in Zora was the mental element for the offence of breaching bail. The British Columbia Court of Appeal had held the mens rea was objective.  CDAS took the position that it was subjective.  The Supreme Court of Canada agreed with CDAS.


The significance of Zora extends far beyond the mens rea issue.  The Court affirmed the fundamental importance of restraint when imposing bail conditions.  It also offered practical guidance to judges conducting bail hearings.


In what will be a seminal decision for decades to come, the Court accepted all three of CDAS’s arguments.  


First, that overreach within the bail system disproportionately affects vulnerable, marginalized people, such as those suffering from addiction, mental illness and poverty.  Second, that the consequences flowing from breach convictions extend far beyond the sentence actually imposed, affecting future bail and sentencing proceedings (see R v Lacasse).  Third, that bail judges must exercise an independent gatekeeping function, and remain vigilant in ensuring overly broad or unduly restrictive bail conditions are not imposed.   


Zora will substantially affect how bail is administered in British Columbia and across Canada.  It will serve as an important safeguard against undue deprivations of liberty and will afford significant protection for vulnerable members of the community.  


CDAS is proud to have been a part of this important development in the law.

May 29, 2020

R. v. Ahmad and Williams - SCC Intervention

CDAS intervened in the R. v. Ahmad and Williams appeal at the Supreme Court of Canada. Thanks in part to Alison Latimer's advocacy on behalf of CDAS, the decision, in this case, has led to positive developments against police intrusion and entrapment of personal, virtual spaces. This case involved a dial-a-dope investigation in which the police had received an unverified tip of drug trafficking from certain phone numbers and used that tip to arrange a drug purchase. The majority of the SCC found that the police had no reasonable suspicion when they phoned one of the numbers and asked to purchase drugs.


Ms. Latimer argued that there is an enhanced privacy interest in virtual spaces compared to physical spaces and that it is important to delineate and circumscribe virtual locations in which police can provide the opportunity to commit a crime. The majority of the Court agreed with this submission and endorsed the relevant factors that CDAS had proposed to avoid "random virtue testing". The impact of CDAS's submissions are found in paragraphs 34-43 of the judgment.

For a copy of the CDAS Factum, click here.

December 04, 2019

R. v. Zora - SCC Intervention

CDAS intervened in the  Supreme Court of Canada appeal in R. v. Zora on December 4, 2019. Matt Nathanson and Chantelle van Wiltenburg represented CDAS.


The Court was asked to determine whether the mental element for s. 145(3) (breach of recognizance) is objective or subjective. CDAS argues that the broad scope of criminalized conduct, the experience of marginalized groups, and the criminal justice system’s finite resources all support the imposition of a subjective standard.


October 18, 2018

R. v. Barton - SCC Intervention

On October 11, 2018, Daniel Song and Matthew Nathanson intervened on behalf of CDAS in R. v. Barton at the Supreme Court of Canada. This case examines crucial aspects of the law and procedure in sexual assault cases. CDAS argued that the Crown should not be able to appeal an acquittal based on an argument not presented at trial. Further, when the Crown's deliberate position at trial contributes to a legal error in a jury charge, the principle against double jeopardy ought to preclude the Crown from appealing on a different theory of liability to establish that error.

To read a copy of CDAS's factum, click here.

To view Daniel Song's submissions, click here (beginning at 1:12:50).

August 03, 2018

R. v. Barton - Leave to Intervene at SCC

CDAS was recently granted leave to intervene at the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Barton, an appeal of the Alberta Court of Appeal's reversal of a jury acquittal. This appeal raises myriad legal issues. CDAS lawyers, Daniel Song and Matthew Nathanson, will argue about whether the Crown, on its own appeal, can materially change its factual or legal theory of liability.

June 07, 2018

Groia v. LSUC - Professional Ethics

CDAS intervened at the Supreme Court of Canada in Groia v. Law Society of Upper Canada, a case considering the limits of a lawyer's ability to zealously advocate for their clients.

This decision enshrines the principle that the standards of civility cannot compromise a lawyer's duty for resolute advocacy. During a heated trial, Mr. Groia, the lawyer for a man accused of insider trading, had alleged misconduct against the prosecutors with the Ontario Securities Commission. Mr. Groia had an honest but mistaken belief of the prosecutors' professional obligations. His client was acquitted, but the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) launched a professional misconduct allegation. The LSUC found him guilty of professional misconduct. The SCC held that the LSUC's finding of professional misconduct was unreasonable. Mr. Groia's actions, based on a sincerely held, but mistaken belief, did not amount to uncivil conduct, particularly since he adjusted his behaviour once the trial judge expressed concerns.

Click here for a copy of CDAS's factum to the SCC.​

June 07, 2018

BCCLA v. Canada - Solitary Confinement

CDAS intervened at the BC Supreme Court in BCCLA v. Canada (AG), a case challenging the constitutionality of indeterminate solitary confinement. CDAS specifically challenged the lack of access to counsel during the segregation review process. Justice Leask accepted CDAS's submissions and found the current solitary confinement legislation unconstitutional, as it violates sections 7 and 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.​

June 07, 2018

R. v. Brassington - Solicitor-Client Privilege

CDAS intervened with written submissions to the Supreme Court of Canada in this case. The SCC has reserved its judgment in this case, which examined the interplay between the solicitor-client privilege and informer privilege.​