Kelley Bryan and co-counsel Karen Steward are honoured to represent the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) in an upcoming intervention before the Supreme Court of Canada.
Last week, the Supreme Court granted LEAF intervener status in the case of AS v. Her Majesty the Queen. AS will be heard along with another appeal, JJ v. Her Majesty the Queen, on October 5 and 6, 2021.
These cases are constitutional challenges to Criminal Code provisions relating to sexual assault cases. The law protects sexual assault complainants from being ambushed with private records during a criminal trial. Examples of private records are text messages, social media communications or posts, photographs, counselling or medical records, immigration records, and social services records, among other things.
If an accused person possesses private records of the complainant and wishes to use them in the trial, the defence must first apply to a judge to determine whether and how the records can be used. Importantly, the complainant has the right to participate in admissibility hearings, and to have a lawyer assist them in that regard.
LEAF will argue that the provisions are constitutional. This admissibility procedure promotes the fair and equal treatment of sexual assault victims, while respecting the accused’s rights to a fair trial. It gives victims a voice when a judge is deciding whether their private records can be used in a criminal trial. It is an important step forward in enhancing public confidence in Canada’s sexual assault system and enhancing gender equality.
LEAF’s press release may be found here.