The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) has, for reasons unknown, granted leave to appeal to the Crown in the R v. A.M. case. The facts of the case were summed up by Armstrong J. of the Ontario Court of Appeal as follows:
 On November 7, 2002, three police officers attended St. Patrick’s High School in Sarnia and, with the assistance of a “sniffer” dog, conducted a warrantless and random search of the school. The attendance of the police on that particular day was not at the request of school authorities. The principal and staff were unaware that the police were planning to attend until they arrived in the school.At trial the judge had found as follows:
 The trial judge found that there were two searches. The first search was the search conducted with the assistance of the sniffer dog; the second search was the search of the backpack of A.M. The trial judge concluded that neither search was reasonable.Section 8 of the Charter reads as follows:
8. Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.The evidence was excluded under section 24(2) of the Charter. Section 24 of the Charter reads:
(1) Anyone whose rights or freedoms, as guaranteed by this Charter, have been infringed or denied may apply to a court of competent jurisdiction to obtain such remedy as the court considers appropriate and just in the circumstances.The Ontario Court looked at the reasonableness of the sniff search and concluded:
 The search in this case was warrantless. The Supreme Court of Canada in Hunter, et al. v. Southam Inc., 1984 CanLII 33 (S.C.C.),  2 S.C.R. 145 at 161 held that a warrantless search by the police is prima facie unreasonable. The Crown, who seeks to justify a warrantless search, has the burden of rebutting the presumption of unreasonableness. In Collins, the Supreme Court held at p. 278 that “[a] search will be reasonable if it is authorized by law, if the law itself is reasonable and if the manner in which the search was carried out is reasonable.”The court then concluded that the detention of the students for 1-2 hours was not reasonable, but that this was not as egregious as the warrantless search:
There was no credible information to suggest that a search was justified. There were no reasonable grounds to detain the students. As Laskin J.A. said in R. v. Calderon (2004), 188 C.C.C. (3d) 481 at para. 69 (Ont. C.A.): “An officer cannot exercise the power to detain on a hunch, even a hunch borne of intuition gained by experience.”The evidence was properly excluded.
The idea that the police can collude with school administrators to detain students while random searches are conducted by the police may sound great to some overly protective parent who has forgotten his own childhood. For me, it just does not pass the smell test.
(Cross post: Little Tobacco)
Friday, November 17, 2006
Posted by Little Tobacco on Friday, November 17, 2006