The upcoming criminal trial of the person formerly in charge of all criminal prosecutions in Ontario is certain to generate a media spectacle. Former attorney general Michael Bryant faces charges of criminal negligence causing death and dangerous driving resulting from an incident in which a cyclist died after apparently having grabbed onto the accused’s car and being transported a considerable distance before a fatal impact. In addition to the public’s usual fascination with the trial of a well known public figure the case will be of interest to criminal lawyers since it will probably bring into play the complex and competing notions of self defence and the duty of care in exercising that right. By not charging murder or manslaughter the prosecution is conceding at the outset the lack of intention to cause death or bodily harm. This seems to imply that some degree of force was justified in the circumstances but that the actions taken by the accused fell outside the limit of those justified by law. It should prove interesting to see precisely what was the situation faced by Mr. Bryant and what the criminal law permitted him to do in the circumstances.
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