In the wake of the acquittals for former CBC host, Jian Ghomeshi, the federal Liberal government enacted a series of significant reforms to the Criminal Code impacting how sexual assault trials would be conducted. One of those reforms created a unique requirement upon the defence to disclose information in its possession such as text messages, e-mails, or social media material of a complainant in cases of this nature.
Criminal defence lawyers have raised significant concerns about the advance disclosure of potentially explosive evidence that could contradict the evidence of a complainant in a sexual assault case. By forcing defendants to provide advance notice to complainants of these items, the fundamental element of surprise has been eliminated from cross-examination in this specific sub-set of cases. Vigorous cross-examination of a witness is the single most important tool to ensure fairness and justice in criminal trials. A Saskatchewan court has ruled that forcing advance disclosure undermines the right to vigorous cross-examination and impacts the fair-trial rights of criminal defendants.
Drawing on his decades of experience successfully defending sexual assault cases, criminal lawyer Edward Prutschi speaks to Jerry Agar on NewsTalk1010 about this important decision.
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