Jian Ghomeshi

Jian Ghomeshi to Sign a Peace Bond

Written on Behalf of Affleck & Barrison LLP

Jian Ghomeshi, the former host of Q, CBC Radio One’s star-studded arts show, was found not guilty at a trial earlier this year. He was expected to stand trial again for a single charge of sexual assault in June of this year. But recent reports indicate that Mr. Ghomeshi is expected to sign a peace bond later this week which will result in the Crown withdrawing the final charge.

What is a Peace Bond?

A peace bond, which is also referred to as a recognizance is an is an order of the court made under section 810 of the Criminal Code of Canada. The order must be made by a judge or a justice of the peace and the accused must willingly agree to keep the peace and not commit any additional crimes.

A peace bond may be in force for up to one year, and may have additional conditions attached, including a requirement to abstain from alcohol or drugs, the requirement to provide a sample of a bodily substance at regular intervals (such as a urine sample). The accused may also be prohibited from possessing firearms or other weapons or may be prohibited from communicating with a person or coming within a certain distance of a specific place.

In exchange for signing a peace bond, charges are withdrawn. Signing a peace bond is not an admission or a conviction of guilt; however, a peace bond will show up on a criminal record check.

A peace bond is often put forward by the Crown when they don’t have a strong case but they don’t wish to drop the charge.

A peace bond is often used in domestic assault or other criminal cases to ensure that an accused does not contact a complainant. It is similar to and sometimes confused with a restraining order.

If an accused violates the terms of a peace bond, he or she is usually required to pay a fine to the court and could face additional charges, such as failing to obey a court order and up to 6 months in jail.

To speak with an experienced criminal defence lawyer, please contact Affleck & Barrison online or at 905-404-1947.

Jian Ghomeshi Not Guilty of Sex Assault

Written on Behalf of Affleck & Barrison LLP

Last Thursday, disgraced radio host Jian Ghomeshi was found not guilty of sexually assaulting three women. The verdict came as a disappointment to many, but not as a huge surprise to anyone who had been following the story and the trial from the beginning. Justice Horkins’ 25-page ruling focussed squarely on the fact that a finding of “guilt beyond a reasonable doubt” was put into question by the three complainants’ lack of reliability and credibility. The complainants’ behaviour after the alleged attacks was not in itself problematic, Justice Horkins ruled; it was the fact they omitted information, were inconsistent in their testimony and lied on the stand. Justice Horkins wrote, “In a case that is entirely dependent on the reliability of their evidence standing alone, these are factors that cause me considerable difficulty when asked to accept their evidence at full value.”

Despite some of the concerns that others have raised with the wording of the decision and the chilling effect this may have on victims of sexual assault (and that are beyond the scope of this blog post), Justice Horkins’ finding of reasonable doubt has a strong legal basis. His decision emphasized the difference between ‘innocent’ and ‘not guilty’: “My conclusion that the evidence in this case raises a reasonable doubt is not the same as deciding in any positive way that these events never happened. At the end of this trial, a reasonable doubt exists because it is impossible to determine, with any acceptable certainty or comfort, what is true and what is false.”

But Ghomeshi’s legal troubles are far from over. He faces another sexual assault trial in June. The complainant, whose identity is covered by a publication ban, came forward at the same time as the other complainants, but the circumstances of her case are different.

If you have questions about your right to silence and would like to speak to an experienced criminal defence lawyer, please contact Affleck & Barrison online or at 905-404-1947.

To read the full decision, click here.

The Problem with Eyewitness Testimony

Written on Behalf of Affleck & Barrison LLP

In trials involving eyewitness testimony, the frailty of memory often becomes a key part of the defence strategy, . Eyewitness accounts can make a deep impression on a jury, especially when the witness is expresses a high level of certainty. However, although a confident eyewitness can make or break a trial, experience shows that mistaken identifications have and do occur and courts have long recognized this.

Many people believe that human memory works like a video recording of our experience, but according to experts, memories are actually quite fragile and susceptible to contamination. As the recent trial of Jian Ghomeshi shows, memories can change over time and be impacted by stress and trauma. The science behind why people remember certain details and not others, and why our memories and the way we recount them can change over time have been closely studied and arise frequently in court.

Several studies have been conducted on human memory and on the propensity for eyewitnesses to remember events and details that did not occur. It is not uncommon for victims to genuinely and confidently identify their attackers only to be proven wrong by DNA evidence years later, as was the case in the Netflix documentary Making a Murderer.

 But this does not mean that eyewitness identification is always unreliable. Sometimes eyewitness identification can be used to exonerate a person who is wrongfully accused of a crime. However, courts are now aware of the ability of third parties to introduce false memories to witnesses. There is only one chance to test the memory of an eyewitness as their memories can become contaminated. That is why it is so important that the testing conditions are adequate. Proper interview techniques and procedures by police and prosecutors are essential to ensure the reliability of identification evidence.

If you would like to speak to an experienced criminal defence lawyer, please contact Affleck & Barrison online or at 905-404-1947.

Jian Ghomeshi Trial Underway in Toronto

Written on Behalf of Affleck & Barrison LLP

Last Monday, the highly-publicized and anticipated sexual assault trial of Jian Ghomeshi, began in Toronto. Mr. Ghomeshi was a former member of the band Moxy Fruvous and the host of the CBC Radio arts and culture show, Q. He was fired from the CBC in 2014 after graphic evidence came to light that he had physically injured a woman. In a Facebook post, Mr. Ghomeshi admitted that he had engaged in “rough” but consensual sex with women. Soon after, multiple women came forward with allegations of abuse, and the Toronto police began an investigation. Mr. Ghomeshi turned himself in to police in November, 2014.

Mr. Ghomeshi has been charged with four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcome resistance by choking. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges. There are three complainants in this case: actress Lucy-Anne DeCoutere of Trailer Park Boys fame and two others whose identities are protected by a publication ban. A second trial, on one count of sexual assault, is scheduled for June.

Earlier his week, Ms. DeCoutere and one of the unnamed complainants testified before Justice William B. Horkins at the Old City Hall courthouse in Toronto. The trial was adjourned Friday afternoon, and will resume Monday morning, February 8. During the first week of his trial, Mr. Ghomeshi did not speak. It is still uncertain whether he will take the stand in his own defence.

Legally speaking, the verdict in this trial has yet to be determined, and can only be decided by one person, Justice Horkins. However, in the court of public opinion, many columnists, reporters and legal pundits have already determined Mr. Ghomeshi’s guilt. Some have even suggested lowering the standard of proof that should apply, or for creating a presumption that complainants are telling the truth in these types of cases. This is cause for concern. There is no denying that a criminal trial can be immensely stressful for complainants and witnesses. While it is important to acknowledge the difficulties faced by victims of sexual assault who speak out against their attackers, it must be emphasized that a justice system in which it is easier to secure convictions in cases of sexual assault can only lead to an erosion of the rights and freedoms that we value as Canadian and that define the justice system in Canada.

Do you have questions about the justice system in Canada? To speak to an experienced criminal defence lawyer, please contact Affleck & Barrison online or at 905-404-1947.