Month: August 2021

Kyla Lee in Vancouver Is Awesome

Following the provincial government’s announcement that B.C. residents will need to show proof of vaccination to attend certain social events, many small businesses took to social media to announce they will not be enforcing the order.

Kyla Lee is a Vancouver lawyer who in recent days has received many questions asking if the vaccine passport is indeed an infringement on Canadian’s Charter Rights. She took to TikTok to share her thoughts on the matter and says ultimately it’s a fair balance.

“Your Charter Rights aren’t absolute. Like at any time the government has the ability to limit your Charter rights,” Lee says. “That can include restrictions on your rights to access certain things, restrictions on your rights to go certain places, restrictions on your bodily integrity rights.”

Read the full story here.

Weird and Wacky Wednesdays: Volume 163

This week on Weird and Wacky Wednesdays, we will be swimming through a new lawsuit brought on by the naked Nirvana pool baby. Then we’ll head over to where else but Florida, where a man decided a snickers bar was worth jail time. And finally, we will head overseas to Sri Lanka, where new drunk driving laws have just been implemented-the catch being they have nothing to do with driving a car!

Weird and Wacky Wednesdays: Volume 162

Morality and criminal law go hand in hand. Recently on Weird and Wacky Wednesdays, we’ve focused on themes including the frailty of human decision-making and what’s behind it.

As a criminal lawyer, I often see clients get into trouble due to alcohol, impulsiveness and sexual desires. This week we cover all these topics, beginning with an unusual impulsive high-speed chase, moving on to an “alcohol-involved” accidental shooting and wrapping up with a gratuitous semi-public sex story.

Why You Should Retain A Lawyer: The Case of Wang

The recent BC Supreme Court appeal decision in R. v. Wang, 2021 BCSC 1547 highlights the need to know what evidence you must present, what evidence you need to challenge and what presumptions the Court will generally make in an excessive speeding ticket trial.

Mr. Wang was stopped for excessive speeding, found travelling 150 kph in a 90 zone on the upper-level highway. The facts suggest he was travelling in a group of fast-moving vehicles, and he was the one in the distinctive green Porsche. His car was impounded, and he disputed the ticket.

At trial in Provincial Court Traffic, North Vancouver, he apparently represented himself. He argued that he was singled out. He argued that other vehicles were driving faster. He and his passenger testified that he got out of the way of the faster vehicles (but apparently then got in a pack of them), although this is not completely clear in the reported decision. He argued that there was no evidence of his speed. It seems his understanding was that there had to be some video or photo record. He argued that none of it could be right because the officer made a mistake copying the serial number of his Porsche. He argued that his flashy car was the reason he was ticketed.

The legal test for an appeal based on findings of fact can stand in the way of justice. Judges are allowed to be wrong. The legal test that the appeal court defers to the trial judge’s findings and inferences subject to a palpable and overriding error can allow innocent people to be convicted just because certain evidence did not come out or was incorrectly understood or characterized by the trial judge in a certain manner. But those are the rules of the game, so it is important to know what evidence to call. This is no less important in a speeding ticket trial.

Mr. Wang and his passenger failed to testify about his speed. They failed to make any challenge to the officer’s methods of calculating the vehicle speed. They mounted no challenge of the officer’s evidence about the speed he adduced as evidence when he testified. It appears from the appeal decision that the officer was not cross-examined.

It is entirely possible that Mr. Wang was innocent, that he wasn’t speeding and that the officer mistook his vehicle as speeding by acquiring the speed of a different vehicle on the highway. This was not properly put to the officer at the trial, and therefore it was not part of the consideration on the appeal.

The BC Supreme Court Justice dismissed the appeal, having concluded that there was no palpable and overriding error in the trial court’s findings of fact.

And the point here is this: although often people who are caught speeding are indeed guilty, even if you are innocent, if you fail to get out the correct evidence at your trial, you cannot assume that innocence will be enough. In other words, the rules we have in our justice system, for example, that you need to address the essential elements of the matter at the trial, must be followed, or you may be innocent and yet be convicted.

It might be viewed as self-serving, but instructive to point out that the results may have been different in this case if Mr. Wang had retained to defend him at trial a lawyer who deals with these types of tickets.

Weird and Wacky Wednesdays: Volume 161, the All Bears Edition

Reflecting on Weird and Wacky Wednesdays one might conclude that it is an inquiry into human frailty. There are themes, but the overarching leitmotif is that of the decision making of humans. To give them the benefit of the doubt (coming from the world of criminal defence) one assumes that, to those individuals, their decisions probably seemed like good decisions to them at the time. At least for a moment before things went awry. 

Humans are simply animals and laws govern us so we can live together. Generally, we all understand that there are laws. Animals don’t really have much more than the law of the jungle. When they run up against humans, they may be governed by laws they will never understand.

This week, in the all-bears edition of Weird and Wacky Wednesdays we will look at bears breaking the law. How can bears break the law? They can’t understand the law. Well, the same could be said for many humans.

Let’s now investigate the issue of bears unlawfully in cars.

Weird and Wacky Wednesdays: Volume 160

Alcohol, proclivity and thrill seeking are common reasons people commit crimes. As these are all natural human failings, sometimes I wonder why we are so bothered by them. Sure, we have plenty of sympathy for the person who steals a loaf of bread to feed their family. But there is more than hunger that drives human behaviour.

This week we will review alcohol-fueled pasta shenanigans, developments in the thrill-seeking jetpack community and we have an update on an Elmo-based story that, well, is worthy of bothering us.

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