On Friday, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear a case about whether police officers under investigation by a civilian watchdog can have a lawyer to help them prepare or “edit” their notes. The case revolves around the deaths of two men shot by Ontario’s Provincial Police in 2009. Police argue that they have the right to talk to a lawyer of their choosing before finalizing their notes. However, the families of the victims argue that having two sets of notes is unacceptable.
In 2011, Ontario’s top court indicated that independent officer notes are central to the integrity of the administration of the criminal justice system and the use of legal counsel to assist in the preparation of the notes would be inconsistent with the purpose of the police notes. The ruling confirmed that officers can obtain legal advice about their rights and duties but were bound to complete their notes before the end of their shifts.