Canada’s Supreme Court will rule on whether the military’s system for trying members charged with civilian offences is constitutional. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Supreme Court of Canada to rule on military’s no-juries justice system

OTTAWA — The Supreme Court is to rule this morning on whether the military’s system for trying members charged with civilian offences is constitutional.

It is dealing with multiple cases at once, involving people in uniform charged with crimes such as sexual assault, reckless use of firearms and growing magic mushrooms.

If those charged were civilians, they would be entitled to trials with juries because of the severity of the offences.

But because they are or were in the military, their cases have been handled in military tribunals where jury trials aren’t options and the accused argue this violates their charter rights.

The government argues the Charter of Rights and Freedoms explicitly allows a parallel military justice system that’s supposed to encompass offences that aren’t strictly military, so that commanders can keep order and discipline.

The unsettled legal question has thrown the military’s justice system into confusion, with prosecutors dropping cases, reducing charges or transferring trials fully into civilian courts while they waited for today’s decision.

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