This week, Weird and Wacky Wednesdays looks at how powdered milk gave rise to a constitutional challenge, how driving in reverse may be dangerous driving, and in honour of the Animal Justice Paw and Order podcast, a case about clemency being granted to a cow that unlawfully crossed international borders.
Powdered Milk is not Cruel and Unusual Punishment
In a very odd constitutional challenge in Federal Court, a Canadian prisoner argued that the use of powdered milk as a substitute for liquid milk in prisons was a violation of his right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. This right, codified in Section 12 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, is typically used to argue that mandatory minimum sentences are unlawful.
However, the challenge was doomed to fail. The standard that must be met in order to prove cruel and unusual punishment in Canada is that the penalty be so outrageous that it would offend common standards of decency, or grossly disproportionate to what would be appropriate. A fiscal decision made by a prison to manage the costs of giving prisoners dairy products is a far cry from meeting that standard. Never mind the fact that bad cases make bad law; the prisoner who brought this challenge did not have any evidence to support what he claimed was a medical inability to drink powdered milk.
And so the challenge, naturally, failed.
Driver Reverses Over A Mile of Freeway
This is a case where you have to see the video to fully appreciate the absurdity of what occurred here. A driver in Ohio was publicly shamed on Twitter after driving in reverse, off the freeway, through a mile including high-traffic intersections, and into a parking lot, where the vehicle ultimately parked. It is unclear from the story whether the driver was charged with an offence.
If this incident had occurred in British Columbia, a charge almost certainly would have followed. The driving is inherently dangerous. The standard for a criminal charge of dangerous driving is that the driving in a marked departure from the conduct of a reasonably prudent driver. And it's not the consequences -- or miraculous absence of consequences as in this case -- that matter. It is the nature of the driving and the mental fault element of a marked departure. Which this driving surely is. I will be watching closely to see whether anything flows from this driving behaviour.
Cow Spared The Death Penalty
In a case that caught the attention of Sir Paul McCartney, a Bulgarian cow was sentenced to death. And after the international outcry from animal rights activists, the cow, known as Penka, has been granted clemency.
Essentially what happened was this: a Bulgarian free-range cow wandered out of Bulgaria and into Serbia. Bulgaria is not part of the European Union, while Serbia is. And due to strict controls on animals crossing borders, ostensibly to prevent the spread of disease, certain paperwork must be filed in order to transport livestock across these borders. Penka did not file any papers, and so after she returned to Bulgaria the decision was made to put her down rather than risk that she had returned with some type of disease.
The whole thing is very silly. If a border is so close that a cow can simply traipse across it and then wander back home, it is hard to imagine that a disease cannot do the same thing. Killing the cow seems highly unnecessary, but it is the step that is technically required under the law. The Bulgarian food safety agency reconsidered its decision, conducted tests on Penka, and upon declaring her free from strange EU disease, stayed the execution.
This is a case I'd expect to hear about on the Animal Justice Paw and Order podcast, but instead I'm writing about it in this week's edition of Weird and Wacky Wednesdays.
Vancouver Criminal Lawyer with a focus on impaired driving, marijuana legalization and related issues, and immediate roadside prohibition defence.