Friday, August 28, 2009

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Warning: Actual Legal Content

Don't worry, it's brief. Also, every use of the word 'brief' doesn't have to be a pun. How can you have an offence of "attempt to possess [narcotic] for the purpose of trafficking"?

Such a charge, on its face, seems either
(a) an attempt to charge someone with trafficking who ought to be charged with possession, because trafficking is indictable and the sentences are more severe; or
(b) redundant with a charge of Possession for the Purpose.

A circumstance has arisen, however, where it makes some sense: an individual (let's call him Smartest Cop Ever) comes into possession of a quantity of controlled substance (A Veritable Blizzard) and conceals it. S.C.E. has no apparent connection to the drug trade and no means of marketing or profiting from this windfall -- the Breaking Bad problem. As such, he has none of the common indicia of drug trafficking: scales, gobs of cash, debt lists, association with hip-hop stars. However, the sheer quantity of product, its location when eventually discovered, and S.C.E.'s behaviour make it unlikely that he kept the drugs for his own personal use.

UPDATE | There was a crucial fact missing from this sequence of events that distinguishes possession for the purpose of trafficking from attempted possession for the purpose: the police had substituted a decoy for the cocaine and as such the accused never possessed it in an amount sufficient to justify an inference of intent to traffic. Unbeknownst to him, the accused was in possession of a small amount of cocaine, and a large amount of flour with a tracking device buried inside.
*He's also charged with breach of trust by public officer, Criminal Code s. 122.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Jarndyce v. Jarndyce*

"The Lawyers have twisted it into such a state of bedevilment that the original merits of the case have long disappeared from the face of the earth. It's about a Will, and the trusts under a Will -- or it was, once. It's about nothing but Costs, now. We are always appearing, and disappearing, and swearing, and interrogating, and filing, and cross-filing, and arguing, and sealing, and motioning, and referring, and reporting, and revolving about the Lord Chancellor and all his satellites, and equitably waltzing ourselves off to dusty death, about Costs. That's the great question. All the rest, by some extraordinary means, has melted away.

... "All through the deplorable cause, everything that everybody in it, except one man, knows already, is referred to that only one man who don't know it, to find out -- all through the deplorable cause, everybody must have copies, over and over again, of everything that has accumulated about it in the way of cartloads of papers (or must pay for them without having them, which is the usual course, for nobody wants them); and must go down the middle and up again, through such an infernal country-dance of costs and feeds of nonsense and corruption, as was never dreamed of in the wildest visions of a Witch's Sabbath. Equity sends questions to Law, Law sends questions back to Equity; Law finds it can't do this, Equity finds it can't do that; neither can so much as say it can't do anything, without this solicitor instructing and this counsel appearing for A, and that solicitor instructing and that counsel appearing for B; and so on through the whole alphabet, like the history of the Apple Pie.

... "Counsel will have something to say about it; the Chancellor will have something to say about it; the Satellites will have something to say about it; they will all have to be handsomely fee'd, all round, about it; the whole thing will be vastly ceremonious, wordy, unsatisfactory, and expensive, and I call it, in general, Wiglomeration. How mankind ever came to be afflicted with Wiglomeration, or for whose sins these young people ever fell into a pit of it, I don't know; so it is."

* Charles Dickens, Bleak House (1851), at 118-122