Pardons for Marijuana Convictions - Sign the Petition!

I'm excited to announce that the Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty officially launched this weekend at Toronto's Global Marijuana March. Already, we have collected over 1,400 signatures from Canadians who agree with our first objective: to ensure that the government's plan for legalizing marijuana includes free and automatic pardons for all prior convictions for personal possession of marijuana. No person should have a criminal record for a minor, non-harmful act, that never should have been criminal in the first place.

Check out our website, and be sure to sign the petition!

Read more about our launch.

Bill C-75 - A Step backwards for Canadian Justice Reform

Among other issues, Bill C-75 threatens to repeal the preliminary inquiry for all charges (except those which carry a life sentence), allow the Crown to introduce evidence from police officers in affidavit form (and force the defence to apply to cross-examine), and repeals the peremptory challenge. The Bill represents a step backwards in Canadian justice reform, which threatens to erode individual rights and procedural safeguards, slow down the Court system, and shield police officers from cross-examination on their actions.

Read my full comment, published in the Toronto Star April 3, 2018, here: Liberal bill a step backwards for Canadian justice reform.

And more here: Fairer and quicker? Not necessarily under Ottawa's justice reforms.

 

Advocating for Cannabis Amnesty

DiGiuseppe Law is working with the Civil Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty to target discriminatory aspects of Bill C-45 The Cannabis Act.

The Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty is in favour of the legalization of Cannabis, but wants to ensure that the Cannabis industry is regulated in a manner that respects diversity and human rights.

The current legislation does not permit anyone who has had a criminal conviction in the last ten years from becoming a licensed producer of Cannabis. Cannabis Amnesty is concerned that this part of the legislation disproportionately excludes racialized, low-income, and Aboriginal Canadians from the legal Cannabis industry.  One commonly cited statistic shows that black Torontonians are three times as likely to be arrested for simple possession of marijuana, despite equal rates of use between black and white Torontonians. As a result, legislation that excludes anyone with a criminal record, without making an exception for individuals with a single conviction for simple possession of Cannabis, has the effect of discriminating against these segments of the Canadian population.

Stephanie DiGiuseppe attended a recent town hall on this issue, hosted by MP Bill Blair. When she questioned Bill Blair about what the government was doing to ensure that Bill C-45 does not discriminate against vulnerable segments of the Canadian population, Mr. Blair responded that the government was concerned about this issue and would be addressing it, after consultation with the public. Public Consultation on the legislation ended January 20th, 2018.

You can read more about the town hall, and Stephanie's comments to the press on this issue, here: Legal weed will prevent youth criminalization, MP Bill Blair says 

Client's First Degree Murder Conviction Overturned by Court of Appeal

On Monday the Ontario Court of Appeal released their decision in R. v. Hall, 2018 ONCA 185, overturning Jeremy Hall's 2013 conviction for the first degree murder of Billy Mason. Along with Dirk Destine of Destine Penman, Stephanie DiGiuseppe was Mr. Hall's counsel before the Court of Appeal and has been his lawyer since 2011.

The Ontario Court of Appeal found that the trial judge improperly introduced evidence of a witness named Edmond Huard, who alleged that that he and Jeremy Hall had conspired to kill the prosecution's star witness Jason Lusted, two years after Mason's death. This was a complex and nuanced ground of appeal. However, ultimately, the Court agreed with Ms. DiGiuseppe's argument that Huard never should have been called as a witness because his evidence had no relevance to question of whether Jeremy Hall killed Billy Mason. The Court further agreed that the introduction of Huard's evidence induced the jury to engage in a process of circular reasoning which was improper and unfairly affected the verdict in Mr. Hall's trial. In addition, Huard's evidence was prejudicial and distorted the trial process. As a result of this error on the part of the trial judge, the Court of Appeal has overturned Mr. Hall's conviction and ordered that he have a new trial. 

Stephanie DiGiuseppe and Dirk Destine have represented Jeremy Hall in three homicide trials and three appeals. He was acquitted of two counts of counselling to commit murder in 2014, the acquittal was upheld before the Ontario Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada denied the Crown's application for leave to appeal in 2016. In 2015, a mistrial was declared following a hung jury in a separate trial for a single count of second degree murder. Mr. Hall subsequently pleaded guilty to manslaughter and received a two year sentence. That sentence will end this year. 

Full Decision: R. v. Hall, 2018 ONCA 185

In the news: Jeremy Hall Receives New Trial for Billy Mason Homicide

Successful Result in R. v. Husbands

Mr. Husband's counsel Dirk Derstine of Derstine Penman and Stephanie DiGiuseppe of DiGiuseppe Law successfully opposed the Crown's application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada in the case of R. v. Husbands.

In 2012, Mr. Husbands was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and other offences related to the shooting at the 2012 Toronto Eaton Centre. Dirk Derstine and Stephanie DiGiuseppe were Mr. Husband's counsel at his 2014 trial, where he was convicted of second-degree murder. Those convictions were overturned by a unanimous decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal in 2017, with Dirk Derstine and Stephanie DiGiuseppe again acting as counsel. 

The Crown sought leave to appeal the Court of Appeal's decision to the Supreme Court of Canada. On February 8th, 2018, a unanimous Supreme Court denied the Crown's application.

Both Derstine and DiGiuseppe will represent Mr. Husbands at his retrial, beginning in September of 2018, where, as a result of his acquittal for first-degree murder in 2014, he will face charges of second-degree murder.

https://www.thestar.com/news/crime/2014/12/17/eaton_centre_shooting_christopher_husbands_guilty_of_two_counts_of_seconddegree_murder.html 

https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2017/09/29/crown-wants-supreme-court-to-overturn-ruling-ordering-new-trial-for-accused-eaton-centre-shooter.html