Cook Case

n the Cook case (1998), the Supreme Court of Canada held that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms applied to an interrogation by Canadian police operating in the United States of a person suspected of committing murder in Canada.

In the Cook case (1998), the Supreme Court of Canada held that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms applied to an interrogation by Canadian police operating in the United States of a person suspected of committing murder in Canada. Cook had been arrested in Louisiana by American police at the request of Canadian police authorities. American police read Cook his rights incidental to arrest pursuant to the requirements of American law. Cook requested to consult a lawyer but the lawyer was not produced. Two Canadian police officers subsequently questioned the suspect without informing him of his rights to consult a lawyer or to remain silent. Twenty minutes after the commencement of the interrogation, the police gave him warning of his right to remain silent which was deliberately ambiguous. They continued their questioning of Cook, who denied committing the murder. The Crown sought to introduce the statement into evidence so as to impeach Cook's credibility.

The Charter applies, according to the Court majority, to acts of the Canadian police even though they have been performed outside Canadian boundaries. Further, the police had violated in a serious manner, indeed flagrantly, the rights of Cook to consult a lawyer and to remain silent as set out in sections 7 and 10 (b) of the Charter; the evidence was excluded. The general rule was that the use of evidence obtained by arraying the accused against himself, evidence that would not have been discovered without such treatment, renders the trial unfair.

Two judges dissented. In their opinion, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms did not apply because the Canadian police were essentially collaborating with the American police and were acting under the authority of the American police. The conduct of the Canadian police officers was not sufficiently serious that it deprived Cook of the right to a fair trial.