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R v M & L (1996)

  • Clayton Rice, Q.C.

The two men in this case were convicted at trial for the stabbing death of a fellow inmate at the Drumheller Penitentiary east of Calgary. M testified that the deceased had initiated various threats against him over a period of time during which the tension in the prison rose to the point where he killed him in self-defence. L was alleged to have assisted M and was convicted as a party to the stabbing under s 21 of the Criminal Code. It was a preemptive strike. L retained Mr Rice for the appeal. The appeals of both men to the Alberta Court of Appeal were dismissed and Mr Rice took the case to the Supreme Court of Canada. The Supreme Court granted the appeal for the reasons of the dissenting judge in the Court of Appeal. The dissenting judge had held that the trial judge was mistaken in his charge to the jury in that the jury may have thought that the physical part of the assault against M had to be imminent or immediate. A new trial was ordered.

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