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Appeal-Judicial Review - Reasons - Oral Only

. R. v. Jackman

In R. v. Jackman (Ont CA, 2023) the Court of Appeal considered the adequacy of reasons, here where a criminal trial judge issued three pages of oral reasons but no further written reasons (as promised):
[11] At the conclusion of argument, the trial judge allowed the Crown’s application. He commenced his ruling by saying:
I am going to give you my decision now. I will give reasons in the fullness of time and they will not be straight away by any means, because I am going to take some time to formulate those reasons, but the probative value of this far outweighs the prejudice. I appreciate, obviously, there is a potential for prejudice, but I do not see the nature of this crime, as alleged here, and the crime that this accused has pled guilty to in 2010, I do not see as particularly inflammatory vis-à-vis other types of similar act evidence. [Emphasis added.]
[12] In the course of his ruling, which continued over three pages of transcript, the trial judge made other comments about this evidence, including that he considered it “very compelling”. He noted that the crime of arson is “no more morally repugnant than all kinds of sexual evidence that juries are routinely presented with by way of similar act evidence and [he did] not see that this stands in any particular distinct stead from all kinds of other evidence that is admittedly prejudicial and can be misused.” He was satisfied that he could give a jury instruction that would prevent the jury from misusing the evidence.


[15] The trial judge should have delivered the written reasons he promised. This court has held on numerous occasions that the failure of a judge to give any reasons for a decision is an error of law: R. v. Sahdev, 2017 ONCA 900, 356 C.C.C. (3d) 137, at para. 33; R. v. Sliwka, 2017 ONCA 426, 138 O.R. (3d) 473, at para. 2; and R. v. Frost, 2010 ONCA 494, at para. 2.

[16] However, this is not a case where no reasons were given. While it would have been preferrable for the trial judge’s oral reasons to have been more extensive, when considered in the context of the record as a whole, the reasons permit us to meaningfully review the correctness of his decision to admit the similar act evidence: see Sliwka, at para. 35, citing R. v. Sheppard, 2002 SCC 26, [2002] 1 S.C.R. 869, at para. 25. In any event, if we had to consider the matter afresh, we would reach the same conclusion as the trial judge.


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Last modified: 14-02-23
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