Canadian Judge Rules Access to Google Is a Right for the Arrested

Canadian Judge Rules Access to Google Is a Right for the Arrested


So, let’s say that you go out on the weekend to the bar, you knock back more than a few, and you get into a drunken battle. You get arrested for disorderly conduct and you’re taken back to the police station. According to one Canadian judge, the police station should be providing you with a computer and Internet access so you can Google up some legal counsel.

This ruling came by way of Judge H.A. Lamoureux from the Provincial Court of Alberta. Christopher McKay was arrested for impaired driving, but when he was brought back to the station, he was told that he could contact an attorney. He didn’t really know what to do, but he made a phone call. The call was unsuccessful and thinking that he was only allowed one call (as is depicted on TV), he sat back down.

During the hearing, this information came up and McKay said that he didn’t consider 411 to be a “viable search engine.” He’d much prefer to go online and use Google to learn what he could, do the necessary research, and hopefully contact an appropriate attorney. He was never afforded this opportunity at the police station at the time.

Judge Lamoureux recognizes that times are changing. In his official statement, he said that the “vast majority of individuals born after the year 1980 first look to the virtual world for information.” Since McKay didn’t have said Internet access, Lamoureux ruled that the accused “was not given a reasonable opportunity to exercise his right to access a lawyer.”

That sets a precedent and I think it’s one that makes sense, so long as the proper precautions and restrictions are put into place. Given this, though, it’s only a matter of time before your “one phone call” turns into a Facebook status asking, “Can anyone recommend me a lawyer? Kinda need one right now.”