FASD & the Justice System

R. v. N.R.R., 2013 ABQB 288 (Burrows J.)

18 yo accused subject of Mr. Big operation with respect to a 2009 double homicide – 29 scenarios – ward of the state, history of trauma and abuse – FASD diagnosis (confirmed afterwards), ADHD, Tourette – vulnerable and socially immature, knew to display greater sophistication than he had – expert testified that he would have been agreeable and made up what they wanted to hear in context of Mr. Big sting – perfect target, extremely vulnerable to manipulation – operation set up to provide accused with family missing from his life – comfortable and exciting lives, “cool”, similar backgrounds – given new and exciting experiences, including first rock concert, first near professional hockey game, first snowboarding trip, access to alcohol, hotel and condo access, significant amounts of cash – subject to power and control of the operation – not coerced by fear of harm, but was by expectations –statements made while functionally detained – real prospect that confession was unreliable – some details obviously incompatible, incredible – technique potentially abusive in youth context, especially given his psychological vulnerability – to permit use of statements would give rise to real and serious possibility of abusive conduct by state – would encourage use of technique where cannot be used successfully without causing harm.

See also: R. v. N.R.R. 2014 ABQB 118 (Read J.)

Trial of same accused on charges related to planned murder of girlfriend’s husband – in romantic relationship with 34 yo youth worker, sought to have her husband killed – in context of Mr. Big operation with respect to murder charges asked purported crim org to do the hit– took an active part in planning – significantly compromised cognitive functioning, FASD, ADHD – here statements were not result of any pressure exerted by undercover – situation quite different to confession in homicide investigation – NRR raised issue, not trying to impress – willing participant in planning – reliability issues that came up in homicide trial not present here – also techniques relatively benign and not an abuse of process – statements admitted.