Taillefer: Disclosure, Guilty Please and Ethics
(2004) 17 Criminal Reports (6th) 149-155
5 Pages Posted: 4 Mar 2016 Last revised: 5 Mar 2016
Recently in Canada, there have been a number of high profile wrongful convictions involving individuals who plead guilty. These cases raise the thorny issue of the ethics of pleading guilty a client who maintains their innocence. There is very little guidance from the case law or rules of professional conduct.This is an issue that needs attention. In 2004, the Supreme Court of Canada released a decision (R v Taillefer) regarding an accused's common law right to disclosure and setting out the essential elements of a valid guilty plea. Although not directly raised, the case was also about a co-accused who pleaded guilty despite maintaining his innocence to his lawyer. This short case comment identifies some of the relevant Canadian sources on this ethical issue which all seem to suggest that it is, in fact, unethical to plead guilty a client in these circumstances.
Keywords: Criminal Procedure, Guilty Pleas, Disclosure, Legal Ethics, Factual Innocence, Criminal Law, Canada
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