Federal Court


No right for prisoner in institution to evade service of legal documents

Prisoner applied for review of disciplinary decision fining him $20, suspended for 21 days, after finding him guilty of disobeying order. Prisoner refused to attend office for purpose of accepting legal documents being served on him, despite being instructed on multiple occasions to do so. Prisoner argued that there was distinction as to whether he was “directed” or “ordered” to attend office. Prisoner argued that he had right to evade service of legal documents. Application dismissed. Whether language constituted “order” was question of mixed fact and law. Words “order” and “direct” were synonyms and there was no merit in prisoner’s attempt to distinguish between terms, particularly in context of daily administration of correctional institution. Court was being requested to reweigh evidence, which was not proper ground for judicial review. Prisoner misunderstood purpose of service of legal documents, as requirement to serve documents in legal proceeding was for purpose of upholding person’s right to be advised of actions by state brought against him engaged at behest of legal party, and to be able to defend proceedings. Any person seeking to evade service would have been implicitly acknowledging legitimacy of proceedings being brought against him or her and thereby seeking to frustrate administration and proper course of justice. As prisoner was incarcerated in penal institution, authorities were required, both for purpose of protecting prisoner’s rights to procedural fairness and for purpose of contributing to promotion of administration of justice, to permit and facilitate service of documents on prisoner when requested to do so by persons engaged in lawful legal proceedings. There was no right for prisoner in institution to evade service of legal documents and therefore no justification to disobey order by prison authorities to attend for that purpose.

Johnson v. Warkworth Institution Disciplinary Court (Aug. 27, 2013, F.C., Peter Annis J., File No. T-1127-12) 109 W.C.B. (2d) 214.

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