Saturday, June 16, 2007

[Canada's] Supreme Court reaffirms ban on spousal testimony

Vancouver Sun:
Janice Tibbetts, CanWest News Service

OTTAWA - An ancient law that bans spouses from testifying against each other has saved a B.C. man from a double-murder conviction after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Friday that his wife's revelation that he allegedly confessed should not have been used against him.

The federal law, rooted in the days when husbands and wives were legally regarded as one person, prohibits spouses from testifying against each other out of concern for 'marital harmony' and the 'natural repugnance' of having one spouse testify against another.

By a 5-4 margin, the Supreme Court upheld a British Columbia Court of Appeal decision that awarded David Couture a new trial because he was still married to his wife when she told police he had confessed, even though they had separated a few days earlier. ...

The evidence is excluded, not because it lacks probative value but, rather, on policy grounds based on broader social interests.

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