Court of Appeal of Quebec

Trottier c. R.

October 15, 2018

500-10-006295-164

Bich, Schrager, Ruel

Appeal from a judgment dismissing a motion for mistrial and from a conviction. Dismissed.

The appellant, who is deaf, appeals from a judgment of the Court of Quebec dismissing his motion for mistrial. The trial took place in French and in Quebec Sign Language (QSL) with the assistance of interpreters. The appellant argues that he was not given a fair trial because the QSL used at his trial was not adapted to his language level. He seeks a new trial during which the QSL interpreters will be assisted by deaf facilitators. 

The right conferred by section 14 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (R.S.C. 1985, App. II, No. 44, Schedule B, Part I) to a person who is deaf must be applied in light of the principle of equality enshrined under section 15. Thus, a person who is deaf, like a hearing person who does not understand or speak French or English, has the right to the assistance of an interpreter who ensures a high level of linguistic understanding, adapted and adjusted to the person’s situation accordingly. Although the services of a hearing QSL interpreter are sufficient to assist a deaf person who is fluent in sign language, the services of several interpreters, including deaf facilitators, may be necessary in the case of a person whose ability to communicate has been affected by his or her deafness. 

The trial judge correctly set out the rules and principles related to the right to the assistance of an interpreter guaranteed by section 14 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and followed the teachings of R. v. Tran (S.C. Can., 1994-09-01), SOQUIJ AZ-94111083, J.E. 94-1363, [1994] 2 S.C.R. 951. He did not commit a reviewable error is stating that the appellant knew QSL and that the QSL interpretation services offered to him during the first nine days of the trial were appropriate as they were well adapted to his needs and allowed him to follow all aspects of the proceedings. He did not err in concluding that if the appellant had difficulty understanding certain terms or concepts, these difficulties did not arise from an insufficient grasp of QSL, but rather his general education level and his lack of knowledge of the law and the functioning of the courts, a situation that is no different than that of many litigants, hearing or deaf, and that is not covered by the interpretation services to which accused are entitled under sections 650(1) of the Criminal Code (R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46) and 14 of the Charter. The judge’s conclusions are essentially based on his assessment of the evidence as a whole, and in particular of the credibility of the witnesses, and must be shown deference in the absence of a palpable and overriding error. Finally, the appellant’s conviction is supported by the evidence as a whole is not unreasonable.

*Summary by SOQUIJ
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