Pubdate: Thu, 13 Jul 2006
Source: Observer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2006, OSPREY Media Group Inc.
Author: Neil Bowen
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


A man's attempt to plead guilty in court this week was derailed by a
legal precedent that could support his acquittal.

Justice Mark Hornblower said he would not accept the guilty plea to a
charge of marijuana possession based on a previous ruling by himself,
in which he said random drug searches at schools violate the Charter
of Rights' protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

The 18-year-old man in court Tuesday had wanted to finish his case,
which began when he was charged April 11.

Hornblower told the man his refusal to accept the plea was not an
attempt to inconvenience him. It indicated there was a potential
defence against the charge.

This week the court was told it is possible that Hornblower's ruling
could be referred to the Supreme Court of Canada. But Hornblower said
the high court has already clearly defined the contentious issue.

Further prosecution of the case must await a decision on whether
appeals of Hornblower's ruling will be pursued.

Hornblower's previous ruling, which has been supported by the Ontario
Court of Appeal, dealt with a Nov. 7, 2002 search at St. Patrick's
High School. A student's backpack was searched after a police dog had
gone through the school with the principal's permission.

This week's case was adjourned until July 17.
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