Thursday, March 31, 2016

Role of reviewing judge on a certiorari from a preliminary inquiry

R. v. Wilson, 2016 ONCA 235:

[25]       The scope of certiorari review is "very limited": R. v. Russell, 2001 SCC 53, [2001] 2 S.C.R. 804, at para. 19. In R. v. Manasseri, 2010 ONCA 396, 276 C.C.C. (3d) 406, at para. 28, Doherty J.A. explained:

[T]he reviewing court does not simply redo the limited weighing function assigned to the preliminary inquiry judge. The reviewing court can interfere only if jurisdictional error is established. The jurisdictional error inquiry looks not at the correctness of the ultimate decision, but at whether the preliminary inquiry judge exceeded or declined to exercise his or her jurisdiction in the course of arriving at that decision. [Citations omitted.]

[26]       As summarized in R. v. Martin, 2001 CanLII 4971 (Ont. C.A.), at para. 3:

It is well settled that where there is a scintilla of evidence upon which the preliminary inquiry judge could conclude that the test is satisfied, a reviewing court should not intervene to quash the committal. See also R. v. Russell, where the Supreme Court of Canada reaffirmed the limited scope of review on certiorari to review committals for trial and reiterated that a preliminary inquiry judge's determination of the sufficiency of evidence is entitled to the greatest deference. It is only if there is no evidence on an element of the offence that a reviewing court can vacate the committal.        [Citations omitted.]

[27]       A preliminary inquiry judge commits a jurisdictional error by committing an accused when an essential element of the offence is unsupported by the evidence.  However, that does not entail the reviewing judge asking whether she would have arrived at a different result. As the majority in R. v. Deschamplain, 2004 SCC 76, [2004] 3 S.C.R. 601, explained at para. 23: "[I]t would be improper for a reviewing court to intervene merely because the preliminary inquiry judge's conclusion on sufficiency differs from that which the reviewing court would have reached".  

[28]       A preliminary inquiry judge's determination is therefore entitled to the greatest deference. The reviewing judge must only decide whether there was an evidentiary basis on which the court below could form the opinion that the evidence was sufficient to justify a committal for trial.



Of the Law Societies of Upper Canada and Nunavut 

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