Is sentencing different if I’m Black?

2. Ask the judge to take judicial notice of anti-Black racism

You may not be able to get an Impact of Race and Culture Assessment (IRCA) or a similar report for your sentencing hearing. But you can ask the judge to consider your race and cultural background by using “judicial notice”.

Judicial notice is when a judge says that something is true even though they don't have any to prove it. The law says that a judge can take “judicial notice” about something that's obviously true.

Judicial notice of anti-Black racism

In Ontario, judges can take judicial notice of systemic anti-Black racism and its effects.

This means that in your sentencing decision, the judge can say that:

  • Black people in Canada are negatively affected by racist attitudes in society, and
  • there are racist practices in places like schools, workplaces, health-care settings, and housing, also referred to as systemic anti-Black racism.

The judge can also say that because of systemic anti-Black racism, a Black person in Canada is more likely to have bad experiences with the police and the criminal courts.

Judicial notice lets the judge say all of these things in your sentencing decision, even if you don't give the judge an IRCA or a similar report. You can tell the judge that they can read more about judicial notice of anti-Black racism in paragraphs 42 and 123 of the R v Morris case.

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