Ontario Criminal


Appeal

Plea of guilty
Accused failed to demonstrate any prejudice amounting to miscarriage of justice arising from conduct of trial counsel

Accused sought to overturn trial judge’s refusal to set aside his plea of guilty to charge of aggravated assault. Appeal dismissed. Before plea was entered, counsel for accused advised court that he had undertaken plea inquiry, and that accused wished to plead guilty. At time of plea, Crown read detailed recitation of facts. At conclusion, accused’s counsel stated that he had reviewed facts with his client and that they were substantially correct. Counsel raised four qualifications, none of which went to substance of allegations. In light of facts admitted, qualifications did not reasonably give rise to defence. Accused personally pleaded guilty to charge. Accused had pleaded guilty to other charges in past. In this case, accused was assisted by Punjabi interpreter, represented by experienced Punjabi counsel, and supported throughout by his family members. Accused’s instructions were clear and were written, translated and signed by accused. Trial judge made findings of credibility and accepted evidence of accused’s trial counsel regarding entry of plea. With respect to accused, trial judge expressly disbelieved him. Trial judge noted that accused was someone whose criminal background and age clearly indicated that he was quite familiar with workings of criminal justice system. Trial judge reiterated that accused had “utterly failed” to demonstrate that his guilty plea should be struck. Evidence supported these findings. Court appreciated that accused was renewing his claim that his plea to aggravated assault was occasioned by ineffective representation of his trial counsel. In particular, accused submitted that trial counsel’s representation fell below applicable standard because he failed to review elements of offence of obstruct justice with accused, or to advise him of potential defence of self-defence. Court’s previous comments regarding nature of plea also applied to trial judge’s ruling on accused’s ineffective assistance claim. Court agreed with that ruling. Accused had failed to demonstrate any prejudice amounting to miscarriage of justice arising from conduct of his trial counsel. Accused was liable to significant jail sentence upon conviction of multiple charges that he faced. Negotiated results achieved by his trial counsel eliminated that risk. Prejudice requirement of ineffective assistance claim not having been demonstrated, appeal failed.

R. v. Grewal (Jun. 18, 2015, Ont. C.A., G.R. Strathy C.J.O., E.A. Cronk J.A., and M.L. Benotto J.A., File No. CA C58526) 123 W.C.B. (2d) 4.

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