A recent Supreme Court of Canada decision, in the case of R. v. Miljevic, considers the question of whether or not a judge is required to provide specific examples of a crime, when the jury asks for them. This case is particularly interesting because the court was split. The majority judgment was written by Justice Cromwell, with Justices Abella, Charron and Rothstein concurring, while Fish wrote dissenting reasons in which Chief Justice McLachlin and Justice Deschamps concurred. A 3-4 split among judges can evolve and be applied in such a manner as to make the minority decision the majority, over time.
The facts of the case involve a man who is accused of second-degree murder, after he threw a heavy object into a crowd, causing someone’s death. At trial, he admitted he unlawfully killed someone, but contended that he was guilty of manslaughter, rather than second-degree murder. He was convicted, which conviction was upheld on appeal, and the case came to the Supreme Court of Canada.