New decisions from the Supreme Court of Canada
The following decisions were released on the Supreme Court of Canada Judgments website since the last InForum. The subject headings and summaries have been prepared by the Supreme Court of Canada. This notice has been prepared by Society staff in Library & Information Services.
Present: McLachlin C.J. and LeBel, Abella, Rothstein, Moldaver, Karakatsanis and Wagner JJ.
On Appeal from the Court of Appeal for Alberta
Criminal law — Appeals — Powers of Court of Appeal — Accused charged with possession of cocaine and possession of currency obtained by crime — Court of Appeal raising new issues on appeal — Whether appeal court erred in ordering new trial on basis of improper cross‑examination — Whether appeal court erred in raising new issue on appeal.
Constitutional law — Charter of Rights — Right to be informed of reasons for arrest — Right to counsel — Accused charged with possession of cocaine and possession of currency obtained by crime — Police delaying in advising accused of reasons for arrest and of his rights to retain and instruct counsel — Whether trial judge erred in law in concluding that police infringed accused’s right to be informed of reasons for arrest and his right to counsel — Whether trial judge erred in law in excluding evidence — Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, ss. 10, 24(2).
The accused was charged with possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking and possession of currency obtained by the commission of an offence. The trial judge determined that the accused’s rights under s. 10(a) and (b) of the Charter were breached because the constables waited 22 minutes to inform him of the reasons for his arrest and an extra 2 to 5 minutes to inform him of his right to retain and instruct counsel. The trial judge noted that defence counsel cross-examined the detective who instructed constables to arrest and search the accused. During this cross-examination, defence counsel confronted the detective about the testimony of another Crown witness, which differed from the detective’s concerning the grounds to arrest and search the accused. Ultimately, all evidence was excluded and the accused was acquitted. The Crown appealed. After the Crown and defence counsel filed their written submissions, the Court of Appeal provided the parties with a list of cases and called their attention to two issues for comment during oral argument: (1) what is a question of law on an appeal from an acquittal; and (2) the limits of cross-examination and consequences of exceeding the limits. During the oral hearing, both counsel made submissions on whether the defence had conducted an improper examination of the detective by asking him to comment on the veracity of another officer’s testimony. The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal on the basis that the trial judge erred in law by relying on the impermissible cross-examination of the police detective. The acquittals were set aside and a new trial ordered.
Held: The appeal should be allowed and the acquittals restored.