A Brief History of the Fitness Rules

AuthorRichard D. Schneider; Hy Bloom
 1
A Brief History of the Fitness Rules
The requirement that an accused be “t to stand trial” stems from the
ancient notion that an accused must be present to respond to accus-
ations of the state. That basic requirement developed into a more
rened view that the accused must be present not only physically but
mentally as well. In Canada, rules originally developed at common law
were codied in 1992 and are contained in section 2 of the Criminal
Code of Canada1 as follows:
unt to stand trial means unable on account of mental disorder to conduct
a defence at any stage of the proceedings before a verdict is rendered or
to instruct counsel to do so, and, in particular, unable on account of
mental disorder to
(a) understand the nature or object of the proceedings,
(b) understand the possible consequences of the proceedings, or
(c) communicate with counsel
The procedures for dealing with the issue of untness to stand trial, and
with mental disorder in general, are set out in Part XX.1 of the Criminal
Code. Within the Criminal Code, Part XX.1 can be seen as a “mini Code
that deals exclusively with the mentally disordered accused.
1 RSC 1985, c C-46 [Code].

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