Supreme Court rules against police practice in note-taking case

OTTAWA – The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that police officers under investigation by a civilian watchdog are not allowed to have a lawyer help them prepare their notes.

The high court made the ruling by a 6-3 margin in a case that pitted officers against the families of two men shot dead by Ontario’s provincial police in separate incidents in 2009.

The ruling offers clarity to the regulations that govern the province’s Special Investigations Unit, which investigates violent incidents involving police officers.

Justice Michael Moldaver, writing for the majority, said public trust in the police is of “paramount” concern.

“This concern requires that officers prepare their notes without the assistance of counsel,” the ruling said.

“Consultations with counsel during the note-making stage are antithetical to the very purpose of the legislative scheme — and for that reason, they must be rejected.”

The families argued before the Supreme Court that having a lawyer approve the notes that end up in police memo books is unacceptable.

They also said that allowing a single lawyer to act for several officers involved in an incident undermines rules against collusion.

Police argued they have the right to talk to a lawyer of their choosing before finalizing their notes.




Browse

Supreme Court rules against police practice in note-taking case

  1. Very reasonable decision.

    • If you were placed in a situation where you had to make a quick decision, where fear and emotion were the driving force on both sides, where in most of these situations there is no good outcome no matter what, what would your notes say? When you knew that a third party driven by political winds was going to judge what you did based on your notes?

      I suspect the lawyer parsed notes will in retrospect have been more useful.

      • Your suspicion is groundless and flies in the face of common sense. By all means let them consult with a lawyer and prepare a second set of notes, but make BOTH available to the other side.

        In fact, in a perfect world, the first set of notes would be prepared, unalterable and available before the officer had a chance to discuss the note-making with the other officers present.

      • Right on!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *