October 30, 2018
500-10-005974-157 & 500-10-005976-152
St-Pierre, Schrager, Healy
Appeals from a judgment of the Court of Quebec convicting a former mayor and an executive of an engineering firm on various counts of fraud and corruption in connection with the awarding of contracts by the city of Boisbriand. Dismissed.
The appellants’ right to a fair trial was not jeopardized by the trial brief, which contained summaries of will say statements made by witnesses and copies of exhibits, required by the judge under section 551.3 of the Criminal Code (R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46). Indeed, this provision acknowledges that trial judges may exercise all the powers granted to them to foster a fair trial, and in this respect, they must be able to request and obtain the tools deemed useful or necessary. The judge’s decision in this case was the exercise of the power to manage a complex case that was before him and must be shown deference on appeal. In addition, there is nothing to support the appellants’ submission that the judge rendered verdicts on the basis of something other than the evidence adduced at trial. The conduct, decisions and remarks of the judge, before and during the trial, reflect his legitimate concern for holding a fair trial in accordance with accepted practice and to properly understand the evidence. In this case, a reasonably well-informed person could not be convinced that the judge was biased, that there was an appearance of bias on his part, or a lack of fairness.
Moreover, the judge had before him a case where the traditional exception to the inadmissibility of hearsay regarding co-conspirators was available. He did not err in dismissing the interpretation proposed by the appellants of R. v. X (Ont. C.A.), 2012-11-05), 2012 ONCA 745, SOQUIJ AZ-50909061, according to which this exception is automatically set aside in favour of the principled approach just because the witness, whose statements a party wishes to report, is available and compellable, leaving the burden to the Crown to demonstrate its necessity. The judge’s decision to dismiss the appellants’ objection in this regard is free from error, as is his decision to allow the amendment of the indictment to add, as co-conspirator, a co-accused against whom the proceedings had been dropped because of his medical condition. This caused the appellants neither surprise, nor prejudice, as the traditional exception did not cease to apply to him solely on the basis of the filing of a nolle prosequi, and the existence of a conspiracy was supported by sufficient evidence, at that stage of the trial, to allow the amendment. Moreover, the judge did not err in his analysis of conspiracy according to the rules established in R. v. Carter (S.C. Can., 1982-06-23), SOQUIJ AZ-82111064, J.E. 82-660,  1 S.C.R. 938.
Finally, the convictions cannot be characterized as unreasonable, as the appellants claim. The judge did not err in his assessment of the credibility of the witnesses, and his conclusions are supported by the evidence.
*Summary by SOQUIJ
Text of the decision: Http://citoyens.soquij.qc.ca
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