Federal Appeal

Criminal Law

Extraordinary remedies
Application for judicial review was dismissed

Conviction review. Applicant was convicted of first degree murder, after son, son’s then-wife, and another witness testified that they saw applicant kill deceased. Applicant applied for conviction review on basis of son’s later confession that he murdered deceased. Criminal Conviction Review Group concluded on preliminary assessment that son’s confession was not reasonably capable of belief. Group, acting as delegate for Minister of Justice, found that there was no new and significant evidence providing reasonable basis to conclude that miscarriage of justice likely occurred and decided not to proceed to investigative stage of review process. In reconsideration decision after alleged inconsistencies were raised with respect to wife’s current recollection, Group refused to compel wife’s examination and cross-examination under oath. Applicant’s application for judicial review was dismissed. Applicant appealed. Appeal dismissed. Minister followed methodology appropriate to purposes of legislative framework during preliminary assessment phase, carefully considering information offered in support of application. Minister went further, interviewing wife as witness to crime but declining to investigate further or to examine her under oath. Minister had firm evidentiary basis for decision that confession was not reasonable basis for concluding miscarriage of justice likely occurred. At applicant’s trial, jury had cellblock confession by son to murder, supported by motive, but still found that applicant was murderer. Minister could not find independent corroborating evidence demonstrating that son committed murder, as opposed to making confessions Minister had acceptable and defensible basis for conclusion. Minister’s failure to disclose note detailing interview with wife did not work procedural fairness because it was not material and did not support need for further exploration of matter, as wife confirmed her earlier testimony that applicant committed killing. Legislative standards permitted Minister to take into account credibility of information, such as son’s confession, supporting application.

Winmill v. Canada (Minister of Justice) (2016), 2016 CarswellNat 5309, 2016 FCA 250, M. Nadon J.A., David Stratas J.A., and Donald J. Rennie J.A. (F.C.A.); affirmed (2015), 2015 CarswellNat 2146, 2015 CarswellNat 6014, 2015 FC 710, 2015 CF 710, René LeBlanc J. (F.C.).

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