Researching Sentencing in Saskatchewan Cases (Tip of the Week)

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By Ken Fox

Need to research sentencing practices in Saskatchewan? You might try Rangefindr, or the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal Sentencing Digests – both excellent sources.

And you might also try Saskatchewan Cases, our comprehensive database of decisions from all levels of court. No, this database is not specialized for sentencing research, as those first two are, but with the right search terms, it can be made to perform as if it were.

How can it do this? you ask. Good question. Answer: by the magic of subject headings. Since the late 1980s, when our forward thinking predecessors were first developing the Saskatchewan Cases database, library staff have consistently entered the subject heading “sentencing” for any judgment where a criminal sentence is delivered. Thus, by using the keyword “sentencing” in your search (best to use the whole word, not a variant or truncation) you will narrow your results to sentencing judgments.

So, if I want see what the sentence might be for trafficking in cocaine, I might enter –

tip10Jul2015

This search nets 47 results, displayed in reverse chronological order, the vast majority of which include the handing out of a sentence for drug trafficking in cocaine.

One caution though – the database is looking for digests that use all three words, but it is not particular as to how they are used. So there may be false hits that, for example, mention a sentencing hearing, but do not contain a sentence in the new ruling.

When should you use Saskatchewan Cases for sentencing research? The Court of Appeal Sentencing Digest is still the best source for sentencing principles as interpreted by our highest court. And Rangefindr has great flexibility in searching multiple parameters and jurisdictions. But if you are looking for Saskatchewan sentencing practices, and have found scant treatment of a particular charge in the SKCA Sentencing Digest, then you might want to search Saskatchewan Cases, and find a wealth of sentencing decisions at all levels of court going back to the 1980s.

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