section 551.7(3)

INTRODUCTION AND BRIEF DESCRIPTION

This section allows for joint hearings to be held for related trials if deemed in the interests of justice by the Chief Justice or Chief Judge or their designated representative.

SECTION WORDING

551.7(3) If the Chief Justice or the Chief Judge or his or her designate determines that it is in the interests of justice to adjudicate the issue at a joint hearing for some or all of the related trials, he or she shall issue an order (a) declaring that a joint hearing be held to adjudicate the issue in the related trials that he or she specifies; (b) naming the parties who are to appear at the hearing; (c) appointing a judge to adjudicate the issue; and (d) designating the territorial division in which the hearing is to be held, if the trials are being held in different territorial divisions.

EXPLANATION

Section 551.7(3) of the Criminal Code of Canada empowers the Chief Justice or the Chief Judge, or their designee, to issue an order for a joint hearing in cases where it is deemed necessary in the interest of justice. This section is particularly useful when there are related trials that share common issues or facts. Holding a joint hearing can save time, resources, and ensure consistency in the decisions made. The section allows the Chief Justice or the Chief Judge to specify which related trials are to be brought together for a joint hearing. The order will name the parties required to appear at the hearing. The Chief Justice or the Chief Judge will also appoint a judge to preside over the hearing. If the trials are taking place in different territorial divisions, the order will designate where the hearing will be held. Issuing an order for a joint hearing can help to reduce the burden on the court system by avoiding the repetition of evidence, arguments, and witnesses. This process can also help in the fair administration of justice by ensuring consistency in the application of the law. Overall, section 551.7(3) is a valuable tool that the Chief Justice or the Chief Judge can use to promote efficiency and fairness in the criminal justice system. It recognizes the need to address multiple related trials in a coordinated and strategic manner.

COMMENTARY

Section 551.7(3) of the Criminal Code of Canada provides for the possibility of a joint hearing for related trials when the Chief Justice, Chief Judge, or their designate deems it to be in the interests of justice. This provision is a crucial element of criminal procedure in Canada since it can simplify and expedite the trial process, and potentially provide for a fairer outcome for all parties involved. The primary benefit of a joint hearing is the consolidation of evidence and legal arguments, which can lead to a more efficient trial process. This is because the same pieces of evidence will not have to be presented multiple times in separate trials. Further, the parties will only need to prepare and present their arguments and evidence once, rather than repeating the process for each separate trial, which can be time-consuming and costly for all involved. Additionally, joint hearings can help to ensure that the outcome of each trial is consistent and just. When related trials are conducted separately, there can be inconsistencies in the decisions made by different judges, leading to unfair results. By having a single judge or panel of judges adjudicate all related trials, there is less room for inconsistency and a higher likelihood of a fair and just outcome. Another benefit of joint hearings is that they can promote transparency and accountability in the criminal justice system. Since all parties will be presenting their cases to the same judge or panel of judges, there is less room for bias or manipulation of the system. This can help to ensure that justice is served in a fair and impartial manner, which is essential for maintaining public trust in the criminal justice system. However, it is important to note that the decision to hold a joint hearing must be carefully considered by the Chief Justice or Chief Judge. While joint hearings can be beneficial, they may not always be appropriate, depending on the circumstances of each case. Factors that may be considered include the complexity of the issues involved, the number of parties and trials, and the potential impact on the fair trial rights of the accused. Overall, Section 551.7(3) of the Criminal Code of Canada provides an important framework for the use of joint hearings in related trials. When used appropriately, joint hearings can promote efficiency, consistency, and fairness in the criminal justice system. However, it is important to carefully consider the circumstances of each case before deciding whether a joint hearing is appropriate.

STRATEGY

Section 551.7(3) of the Criminal Code of Canada provides the legal framework for the joint hearing of related criminal trials. This section has implications for both the defense and prosecution, as it presents strategic considerations that each party must take into account when participating in such a hearing. One strategic consideration for the defense is whether to consent to a joint hearing. This decision must be made after weighing the potential benefits and drawbacks of such a hearing. Participating in a joint hearing may limit the time and resources required for the defense to present its case, as similar evidence and testimony can be used across multiple trials. It may also provide more opportunities to challenge the prosecution's case and introduce alternative explanations for the evidence presented. However, participating in a joint hearing may also present risks, such as the possibility that evidence or testimony intended for one trial may harm the defense in another. The defense must also consider the effect that a joint hearing may have on the jury, as it may be difficult for them to keep the evidence and testimony from each case separate. Similarly, the prosecution must weigh the benefits and drawbacks of a joint hearing. They may want to participate in such a hearing in order to present a strong and comprehensive case, as the evidence and testimony from each trial can be used to strengthen the other. Additionally, a joint hearing may be more efficient for the prosecution, as they can present their case once, rather than multiple times. However, the prosecution must also consider the possibility of a negative impact on their case, such as the defense being able to use evidence or testimony from one case to undermine the prosecution's case in another. The prosecution must also consider whether the jury will be able to keep the evidence and testimony from each case separate. Another strategic consideration for both parties is the selection of the presiding judge. The Chief Justice or Chief Judge will appoint a judge to adjudicate the joint hearing, and each party may have different preferences for this judge based on factors such as their experience, expertise, and reputation. The defense may want a judge who is known for being sympathetic to defendants, while the prosecution may prefer a judge who is tough on crime. Each party may also have preferences for the territorial division in which the hearing is held, if the trials are being held in different territorial divisions. Overall, each side must consider the potential benefits and drawbacks of a joint hearing in their specific case, and decide whether they want to participate in such a hearing. They must also consider strategic decisions such as which judge to select and which evidence to present. By carefully navigating these strategic considerations, each party can work to achieve a favorable outcome in the joint hearing of related criminal trials.