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NCJ Number: 166947 Find in a Library
Title: Prosecutorial Accountability in Canada (From Accountability for Criminal Justice: Selected Essays, P 330-354, 1995, Philip C Stenning, ed. -- See NCJ 166936)
Author(s): D Stuart
Date Published: 1995
Page Count: 25
Sponsoring Agency: University of Toronto Press
Buffalo, NY 14203
Sale Source: University of Toronto Press
33 East Tupper Street
Buffalo, NY 14203
United States of America
Type: Issue Overview
Language: English
Country: Canada
Annotation: This essay focuses on the accountability of trial prosecutors in Canada, with particular reference to the practical realities of prosecuting in Toronto in the Province of Ontario.
Abstract: The author concludes that there is little effective legal, political, or administrative accountability for prosecutors. At the apex of the Canadian system, the attorney general is politically accountable in the legislature, but this is largely ineffective. The office is not free from considerations of political expediency hidden from public scrutiny. Front-line prosecutors have wide powers and, especially given administrative realities and the tradition of a prosecutor as an independent "minister of justice," largely unfettered discretion as to how and whom to charge. Canadian prosecutors now risk civil suits for malicious prosecution, but this has proved to be a small risk. The most important form of legal accountability lies indirectly in the power of judges to stay a prosecution as an abuse of process. The judicial record, however, has been one of conservative deference. The entrenchment of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982) has brought important new forms of accountability. Prosecutors often now find their conduct at issue, particularly when trial judges interpret the new constitutional rights of the accused to be tried within a reasonable time and to full disclosure in advance of the trial. Perhaps the best hope for true accountability of prosecutors lies in improved recruitment, training, and professional information; there also needs to be wide public debate.
Main Term(s): Court personnel
Index Term(s): Accountability; Foreign criminal justice personnel; Prosecutorial discretion; Prosecutors
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