Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Orders for specific medical treatment of federal prisoners proper in limited circumstances

R. v. Taylor, 2013 NLCA 42 holds that, in very narrow circumstances, a Superior Court judge may make an order for specific medical treatment of a prisoner serving a term of custody in a federal institution:




[28]        Nevertheless, I agree that, as a general proposition, a sentencing judge's intrusion into this area ought to be exercised sparingly and should generally be couched in the form of a recommendation rather than an order.


[29]        That is not to say, however, that there could never be a legitimate occasion where an order allowing for treatment by the offender's own physician while in the penitentiary could be made.  For example, a judge faced with a submission that an elderly offender's serious heart condition would jeopardize his life in prison if he were not kept under the strict supervision of his own specialist who could administer medication in a specific manner might be persuaded, because of the seriousness of the offence and the need to express denunciation, that incarceration is nevertheless warranted.  He might only be willing to do so, however, if he could be assured that the offender's medical treatment were to be continued, so that a sentence to a term does not turn into a death sentence.  Where the imposition of a treatment condition is bound up with the justification for the sentence of incarceration, such a condition might well be warranted.


[30]        I would not rule out, therefore, a sentencing judge in a superior court having authority to order that an offender be treated by his own psychiatrist in certain circumstances.


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