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NCJ Number: 67128 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: RESEARCH ON THE HALIFAX (CANADA) CRIMINAL COURTS - A TECHNICAL AND CONCEPTUAL REPORT
Author(s): A WARNER; K E BRENNER
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 108
Sponsoring Agency: Canada Solicitor General
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0P8, Canada
National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
Unison
Canada
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Language: English
Country: Canada
Annotation: BASED ON 1,033 CRIMINAL CASES IN THE HALIFAX COUNTY AND MAGISTRATES' COURTS (NOVA SCOTIA), THIS STUDY EXAMINES DEFENDANT AND OFFENSE CHARACTERISTICS, LAWYER ROLES AND THE RELATIVE IMPORTANCE OF PEOPLE AND PROCESS VARIABLES.
Abstract: DEFENDANTS WERE FOUND TO BE YOUNG (73 PERCENT UNDER 25), POORLY EDUCATED (61 PERCENT HAD NOT REACHED 10TH GRADE), SINGLE (83 PERCENT), MALE (88 PERCENT), AND LIVING IN THE LOW-INCOME DISTRICTS IN HALIFAX. THE DEFENDANT UNEMPLOYMENT RATE WAS MORE THAN SIX TIMES THE 1977 PERCENTAGE FOR HALIFAX. DEFENDANTS WHO HAD THE LEAST LEGITIMATE ACCESS TO FINANCIAL RESOURCES WERE MOST LIKELY TO BE CHARGED WITH MAJOR PROPERTY OFFENSES. THIS PROFILE OF THE TYPICAL DEFENDANT SUGGESTS SOCIAL INJUSTICE INHERENT IN THE TYPES OF BEHAVIOR LABELED CRIMINAL, THE TYPES OF PEOPLE WHO ARE ARRESTED, AND HOW THEY ARE PROCESSED BY THE COURTS. BECAUSE ONLY 13 PERCENT OF THE CASES WERE DISMISSED OR ACQUITTED, LARGELY DUE TO THE HIGHER NUMBER OF GUILTY PLEAS, A LAWYER WAS MOST IMPORTANT TO THE DEFENDANT AT SENTENCING. FOR SUMMARY CASES, REPRESENTED FIRST OFFENDERS WHO PLEADED GUILTY WERE THREE TIMES AS LIKELY TO RECEIVE NONPUNITIVE SENTENCES THAN UNREPRESENTED PERSONS. PRIVATELY REPRESENTED DEFENDANTS WERE LESS FREQUENTLY CONVICTED AT TRIAL THAN LEGAL AID CLIENTS FOR ALL LEVELS OF CHARGE SEVERITY. A DEFENDANT'S ABILITY TO PAY, THEREFORE, DETERMINES WHETHER A DEFENDANT HAS A LAWYER, WHO THE LAWYER IS, AND ALSO WHETHER THE DEFENDANT CAN MAKE BAIL OR PAY A FINE. IN EACH INSTANCE, THE DEFENDANT'S FINANCIAL CIRCUMSTANCES CAN EFFECT THE OUTCOME OF THE CASE. THE MAJOR PROCEDURAL ISSUE IS THE COURT'S LACK OF OPENNESS AND ACCOUNTABILITY FOR DECISIONS WHICH CARRY SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES FOR THE DEFENDANT AND THE PUBLIC. COMPARISONS BETWEEN LAWYERS' SENTENCING RECOMMENDATIONS AND SENTENCES GIVEN SHOW A HIGH LEVEL OF AGREEMENT BETWEEN LAWYERS AND JUDGES, SUGGESTING INFORMAL INTERACTIONS HIDDEN FROM SCRUTINY. THE FIRST STEP IN REFORM THAT COULD BRING GREATER JUSTICE FOR DEFENDANTS PROCESSING TO PUBLIC EXAMINATION SO THAT IT WILL BECOME MUCH MORE DIFFICULT FOR BIASED PROCEDURES TO OPERATE UNCHALLENGED. TABULAR DATA AND REFERENCES ARE PROVIDED. (RCB)
Index Term(s): Accountability; Case studies; Court reform; Defendants; Defense counsel effectiveness; Discrimination; Indigents; Nova Scotia; Sentencing/Sanctions
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=67128

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