Canada - Judicial system

The civil law follows English common law everywhere except in Québec, where it follows the Napoleonic Code. The main body of criminal law is derived from English sources; most criminal statutes, being federal, are uniform throughout the country. Police magistrates and justices of the peace are appointed by the provincial governments. Civil and criminal courts exist on county, district, and superior levels; all judges of the superior, federal, tax, district, and county courts are appointed for life (but not beyond age 75) by the governor-in-council (the cabinet) and are paid by the federal Parliament. The Supreme Court in Ottawa has appellate, civil, and criminal jurisdiction throughout Canada; its chief justice and eight associate ("puisne") justices (at least three of whom must come from Québec) are appointed by the governor-general. The Federal Court of Canada (formerly the Exchequer Court), organized into trial and appeal divisions, hears cases having to do with taxation, claims involving the federal government, copyrights, and admiralty law. Its appeal jurisdiction includes review of rulings by federal boards and commissions. The Tax Court, with seats in major cities throughout the country, rules on cases involving tax and revenue matters.

The death penalty in Canada was abolished in 1976; that decision was upheld in a vote by the House of Commons in June 1987.

The judiciary is independent of the legislative and executive branches. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, part of the 1982 revised Constitution, guarantees a number of individual fundamental rights.

Criminal defendants are afforded a wide range of procedural due process protections including a presumption of innocence, a right to counsel, public trial and appeal.

Canada accepts compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice with reservations.

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