R. v. S. (R.D.)

In this case, a judge’s comments, made when she acquitted a racial minority youth, R.D.S., of assault charges against a white police officer, were considered biased because the comments acknowledged racism in Halifax, including racism by police officers. The lower courts had found that the Honourable Corinne Sparks, Nova Scotia’s first black woman appointed to the bench, was biased.

LEAF intervened at the Supreme Court of Canada with the National Organization of Immigrant Visible Minority Women of Canada (NOIVMWC) to bring attention to the important and complex issues around what is “good” judging. Findings of judicial bias on the basis of race are extremely rare in Canada. LEAF urged the Supreme Court to recognize the valuable role played by Judge Sparks and other racial minority judges, and to encourage this role, not punish it.

The Supreme Court upheld the original judgment of Judge Corinne Sparks to acquit R.D.S. and found no bias or appearance of bias in her remarks.

Download the factum here.