New & Notable: A Court Order is not a Suggestion

Justice Hill is not afraid to write lengthy, thorough and verbose judgements.  His judgements are often relied upon as a comprehensive overview of the law on a given point.  In a recent ruling his succinct and pointed ruling delivers an equally clear message - a court order is not a suggestion: R v Knockwood, 2011 ONSC 5004
Kathleen Knockwood was convicted of importing heroine into Canada.  Knockwood is an aboriginal Canadian.  After conviction Hill J ordered a pre-sentence report pursuant to section 721 of the Criminal Code; pursuant to section 721(4) the court further ordered that the report be in a Gladue report format - to address the aboriginal status and issues related thereto.  Subsequently correspondence was received that the home province of Knockwood (Quebec) do not prepare Gladue reports.  It was thereafter agreed that a pre-sentence report with "Gladue content" would be accepted. 

Hill J ordered that it be prepared and delivered to the court on or before November 1, 2011.

On August 17, 2011 the Court received a letter dated August 12, 2011 from Quebec probation services which indicated that “due to workload constraints” and the limited number of officers “that would be able to conduct the interview in English” an extension of time for the preparation of the report was required; the requested due date was December 12, 2011 [para 4].

In considering this request for an extension Hill J made reference to section 720 of the Criminal Code which provides that a “court shall, as soon as practicable after an offender has been found guilty, conduct proceeding to determine the appropriate sentence” [para 5].  Hill J concluded with the following:
A time period approaching three months from the date of conviction for the completion of a PSR is well beyond the usual 6 to 8-week range frequently accommodated in the busy courts in Brampton. The court's direction of August 10 was a court order in a federal proceeding, not a request subject to the idiosyncratic response of a particular provincial probation service. If necessary, the court shall take whatever further coercive and/or punitive measures necessary to enforce its order.

It is hereby confirmed that it is ordered that the PSR is to be completed and filed with the court on or before November 1, 2011 [paras 6-7]; [emphasis in original].
DG Mack