Presentation on theme: "Why Won’t You Talk to Me? The Crown perspective Lynette Fritzley Assistant Crown Attorney Mental Health Court Team Lead Youth Team Lead Regional Municipality."— Presentation transcript:
Why Won’t You Talk to Me? The Crown perspective Lynette Fritzley Assistant Crown Attorney Mental Health Court Team Lead Youth Team Lead Regional Municipality of Waterloo **note: The statements expressed therein and the commentary attached are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Attorney General.
Oath of Office Every Public Servant in Ontario must take the following Oath of Office: I________, do swear that I will faithfully discharge my duties as a public servant and will observe and comply with the laws of Canada and Ontario, and, except as I may be legally authorized or required, I will not disclose or give to any person any information or document that comes to my knowledge or possession by reason of my being a public servant. So help me God.
Other Laws Regarding Privacy There are many laws that restrict what the Crown can tell a family: Criminal Code of Canada Common Law Youth Criminal Justice Act Freedom of Information Act Personal Health Information Protection Act Mental Health Act
Generally speaking: The Crown cannot discuss any details of a case with you, including but not limited to: The facts alleged Whether your loved one has a criminal record / prior police involvement Any psychiatric / medical reports received from any doctors, institutions, etc.
Exceptions: One exception to this is if the information has already been made public, i.e. what is noted on the Information, what has been said on the Record in open Court, or made an exhibit in Court proceedings. Anything that has already been made public, i.e. the allegations are often read into the Record in Bail Court, can be discussed. How much detail the Crown chooses to discuss, however, depends on the Case. Generally speaking, the more serious / contentious the case, the less likely the Crown will discuss it with you in any detail.
Exceptions cont’d: If you are the victim of the alleged crime then it is likely the case will be discussed with you in more detail. Examples include discussing your evidence, where the case is headed, possible resolutions, etc. However, the Crown will still not be able to discuss with you the case at large, i.e. any other evidence obtained, any psychiatric / medical reports.
Exceptions cont’d: If your family member consents through his / her counsel to the Crown discussing details of the Case with you. However, whether the Crown chooses to will often depend on the nature of the proceeding. Also, if your family member is unrepresented the Crown will likely not approach him to seek his consent.
What the Crown can discuss with you: In addition to the exceptions already noted: The Crown can provide basic information about the Court process and speak in generalities about the various outcomes. The Crown can provide information about various agencies to assist you, such as the SSO, CAMH, Duty Counsel, Salvation Army, Mental Health Court, etc..
Suggestions about working with the Crown: REMEMBER: you do not have any obligation to speak to the Crown unless you have been formally subpoenaed to testify in Court. However, you are welcome to approach the Crown if you have a question / want to provide information. Often you will have information about your loved one that is not included in the Brief and provides very important background information that will assist the Crown in getting the “full picture”.
Suggestions about working with the Crown cont’d: If you choose to speak to the Crown: think carefully about what you want to say. My suggestion to families is always speak to counsel / duty counsel first. Remember that nothing you say is confidential – it must be disclosed to your loved one. Remember that anything you say can be used by the Crown in your loved one’s case. The Crown cannot make promises to limit the use of the information you provide.
Suggestions about working with the cont’d: No matter how upset / nervous / angry / scared you might be, remember that the Crown is a professional doing their job. They are strictly limited on what they can tell you, and limited by the adversarial legal system in what they may tell you. Most cases you have the same goal – to stabilize the situation. Stabilizing the situation ensures public safety, which is the Crown's focus. However, where the disagreement might be is how best to achieve that goal.