Friday, July 12, 2013

Rhetorical questions to be avoided in jury charge

R. v. Williams, 2013 ONCA 477 holds:

[8]          We agree with the appellant that the trial judge's earlier directions to the jury, when he was relating the evidence to the elements of first and second degree murder, lacked balance. We are particularly concerned with the trial judge's use of rhetorical questions. As this court said in R. v. Baltovich (2004), 73 O.R. (3d) 481, at para. 146:

Rhetorical questions of that nature may have a place in the Crown's closing address. They should be avoided in the jury charge, lest the trial judge be seen as taking up the Crown's cause and casting off the mantle of objectivity.