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Court decision erodes detainees’ rights, says Glendon prof

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Guest columnist Timothy Moore (right), a psychology professor at Glendon College, and special guest columnist Andras Schreck of Schreck Presser Law, say a recent ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada leaves suspects with such a weak right to counsel that police interrogations are quite likely to lead to false confessions, wrote the Jurist Legal News & Research online Nov. 11 in an introduction to the column.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled earlier this month that the right to counsel is a one-time-only opportunity, with few exceptions, wrote Moore and Schreck. In a 5-4 decision, the majority in R. v. Sinclair held that the essential purpose of the right to counsel is informational rather than protective.

Sinclair had been arrested for murder. After being advised of his right to counsel, he had two three-minute telephone conversations with his lawyer prior to a police interrogation that lasted five hours. He was denied repeated requests for further consultation with counsel.

In the opinion of Moore and Schreck, the majority decision erodes constitutional protections of detainees and expands police powers at the cost of fewer safeguards for suspects.

The complete commentary can be found at:

http://jurist.org/forum/2010/11/canada-right-to-counsel-confessions-of-dangerously-unrepresented-minds.php .


Published on November 15, 2010