Monday, August 4, 2014

Catch-up 1: Nelson Hart: Momentous development: Supreme Court of Canada strikes down conviction based on "Mr. Big" operation: Rules confession is unreliable; New trial ordered; Stricter rules placed on such operations to minimize the risk. (Associated Press); (Links to the entire decision and related articles provided);

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am back from a "seasonal break" with  the first of several "catch-ups" and a eagerness  to plunge into new posts. The Supreme Court of Canada decision  imposing limits on "Mr. Big" operations - commonly used in some Canadian jurisdictions and under consideration by several U.S. jurisdictions  - is particularly important because of the risks that suspects under investigation may say anything damning about themselves (true or not)  in order to be accepted by "Mr. Big," the head of the criminal organization. I am certainly pleased to see this decision  (it makes the "Mr. Big operation presumptively inadmissible) - but I had hoped Canada's highest court would have banned "Mr. Big" operations forever.

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.

STORY: "Mr. Big' sting confessions get stricter rules from Supreme Court," published by CBC News on July 31, 2014. (Reported by Tara Brautigam: The Associated Press);

SUB-HEADING: "Court warns of risks concerning confessions elicited by undercover officers posing as criminals."

PHOTO CAPTION: "Nelson Hart was convicted of killing his twin daughters based on his confession to police who were posing as criminals in a so-called Mr. Big sting operation. The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld Hart's appeal and ruled the confession was inadmissible."

GIST: "The Supreme Court of Canada has upheld a lower court ruling that ordered a new trial for a Newfoundland murder suspect, in a decision that puts stricter rules on how police obtain confessions through "Mr. Big" sting operations, but does not forbid the practice. The justices ruled that so-called Mr. Big stings like the one that convicted Nelson Hart pose major problems — namely, that they tend to produce unreliable confessions and risk becoming abusive."...In an interview with CBC News, Robby Ash and Jamie Merrigan, the lawyers for Hart, said they welcomed the top court's decision. "We think that the Supreme Court of Canada got it right.… They've put a test in place that will control the way in which the police apply it," Merrigan said. Ash told CBC News he thought today's ruling would change the way police carry out their investigations. "Certainly I can't imagine one being carried out in the manner of the way Mr. Hart's was carried out," Ash said."

The entire story can be found at:

See related CBC story: "'Mr. Big' mountie  upset with Nelson Hart decision."


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Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;