CANADA - Alberta’s top court won’t entertain arguments it should revisit a 1981 ruling setting a benchmark for sentences for commercial cocaine dealers. Counsel for a convicted Edmonton trafficker had hoped to argue the sentencing “starting point” in the case of convicted dealer Neil Andrew Maskell should no longer be considered valid.
In the Maskell case, the Alberta Court of Appeal in 1981 said judges sentencing cocaine dealers whose business is more than on a minimal scale should start with a sentence of three years. Depending on the aggravating and mitigating circumstances a judge would then adjust the appropriate sentence up, or down from there.
Defence counsel Kent Teskey had asked the appeal court to reconsider the ruling in light of 2014 standards. Teskey argued the “landscape of sentencing drug offenders” had shifted since 1981, making Maskell obsolete. He noted drug treatment courts, for example, now allow judges to deal with offenders through rehabilitative measures. But the Court of Appeal said there was nothing to suggest a change in attitude about drug dealers in general.
“There is no other indication of a change in societal attitudes towards trafficking in hard drugs like cocaine,” a three-member panel said in a written judgment released Wednesday. While the court has the ability to overrule precedents, that power is exercised cautiously.” Teskey’s client, Jesse John Allan Melynk, was handed a 90-day term to be served on weekends on a charge of trafficking in cocaine.
The Crown has appealed that ruling.
The Calgary Sun/Sept. 24, 2014
Dear Drugs-Forum readers: We are a small non-profit that runs one of the most read drug information & addiction help websites in the world. We serve over 4 million readers per month, and have costs like all popular websites: servers, hosting, licenses and software. To protect our independence we do not run ads. We take no government funds. We run on donations which average $25. If everyone reading this would donate $5 then this fund raiser would be done in an hour. If Drugs-Forum is useful to you, take one minute to keep it online another year by donating whatever you can today. Donations are currently not sufficient to pay our bills and keep the site up. Your help is most welcome. Thank you.