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--------------- Print Magazine --------------
 
  May 2016
 
  April 2016
 
 
 
 
LEGAL TROTTERNAMA
Supreme Court rejects acquittal in Internet child luring case

The Supreme Court of Canada did not find the acquittal of a sex offender who tried luring the girl on the Internet appropriate and ordered a second trial ruling that there was more to the applicable law than physical contact. Therefore, the mere fact that the girl and the man did not meet was not a sufficient ground for acquittal. However, the fellow was acquitted of Internet luring because he had neither met the child, nor could his intention to meet be established.

Writing the judgment Justice Morris Fish observed, "This is in keeping with Parliament's objective to close the cyberspace door before the predator gets in to prey".

The case was about one Craig Legare of Edmonton , who was found not guilty in 2006 on two charges of sexual Internet luring. The trial judge did call his actions "despicable and repugnant" but stopped short of convicting on the grounds that the accused never had the intention to meet the child.

In appeal the Alberta Court of Appeal retained one but rejected the other acquittal saying that the federal Internet luring law was aimed at the communication of sexual nature and was not about physical contact. The Supreme Court agreed with the appeal court unanimously and opined that the trial judge gave an unduly narrow reading to the law which seeks to shut the Internet doorway on the sexual predators who prey upon children.

During the trial Legare admitted to presenting himself as a 17-year-old to the girl in 2003 while he was 32 and also admitted to indulging in sexual chats with her. On her part, she posed as a 14-year-old though she was 12. He admittedly also called her after she gave him her number. However, he claimed that he did not intend to meet her.

Justice Fish said that the chats may not be sexually explicit because the Internet luring law was aimed at 'preparatory crime'. He said, "Those who use their computers to lure children for sexual purposes often groom them online by first gaining their trust through conversations about their home life, their personal interests or other innocuous topics. It criminalizes conduct that precedes the commission of the sexual offences to which it refers, and even an attempt to commit them. Nor, indeed, must the offender meet or intend to meet the victim with a view to committing any of the specified secondary offences".

 

Texas executes low IQ convict

The legal issue of whether a mentally retarded man could be sentenced to death or not and what constitutes mental retardation to the extent of automatically barring execution has once again come up with Texas executing a man with below average IQ.

Bobby Wayne Woods, 44, was administered a lethal injection after he was found guilty of raping and murdering his girlfriend's 11-year-old daughter, and after his appeal to the US Supreme Court was rejected. His lawyers had argued in the appeal that Woods could not be executed because he was mentally retarded and as per the 2002 ruling of the Supreme Court the mentally ill could not be put to death. However, the Supreme Court did not find it fit to intervene.

The tests Woods was put to while he was in prison found his IQ as low as 68, which is lower than the widely accepted limit of 70 for mental impairment. The State, however, relied on the tests that were conducted on Woods as a child. These tests put his IQ at 86. Although the Supreme Court ruled seven years ago that it was illegal to sentence to death those who were mentally retarded, the individual States are still free to decide as to what they consider 'mental impairment' for disallowing death sentences. The Court in the present case said that the IQ level of 70 was just an indicator and not a legal limit of mental impairment for the purpose of barring death sentences.

The Texas attorney general, Greg Abbott, argued the unreliability of the IQ tests before the Supreme Court saying, "The only experts to ever conclude that Woods was mentally retarded did so after he had committed this murder and had motivation to underperform."

Woods' prosecutor, Richard Hattox, also defended the execution saying, "Woods testified, and the jury watched him reason and think and debate with me and his own lawyers. If he was going to claim mental retardation, having him testify was a mistake, because that took away any doubt".

After abducting Sarah Patterson and her brother, Cody, Woods raped Sarah and slit her throat while Cody was badly beaten but managed to survive.

 

Obama administration seeks to kill Guantanamo lawsuit

The families of the two detainees who committed suicide in Guantanamo Bay prison in June 2006 do not have the right to approach the US courts for any relief because the 2008 ruling of the Supreme Court that allowed the prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay to challenge their detention does not apply to such cases, Justice Department has argued.

The 2008 decision of the Supreme Court had undone the effect of the provision under the Military Commissions Act of 2006 that barred the federal courts from hearing the challenges to the detention of Guantanamo Bay detainees. The said decision of the Supreme Court left other provisions of the 2006 Act intact.

The government now says that Yassar Talal al-Zahrani and Salah Ali Abdullah Ahmed al-Salami were properly detained under the relevant provisions of the Act as enemy combatants, and since the 2008 ruling relates only to improper detention, it has no application in this case, as the Supreme Court ruling does not affect the general bar according to which no court can hear a challenge "relating to any aspect" of the detention of a Guantanamo Bay prisoner.

HRS

 
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