No reference to accused’s mental illness throughout all of proceedings

Ontario criminal | Appeal

GENERAL

No reference to accused’s mental illness throughout all of proceedings

Accused was convicted of four counts of driving motor vehicles without insurance, contrary to Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act (Ont.). Accused applied for extension of time in which to appeal and for leave to appeal under Provincial Offences Act (Ont.). Accused suffered from, and was being treated for, serious mental illness. Judge held that accused had not learned from his previous fine, but did not notice that previous conviction and fine was imposed for offence that occurred after offence for which accused was being sentenced, which was arguable error of law with respect to sentence. Accused’s motion before provincial judge to extend time in which to appeal his first three convictions was dismissed. Accused applied to provincial judge to extend time in which to appeal all four of his convictions, but matter was treated as appeal on merits on fourth conviction, and appeal from sentence was granted. Accused tried again to bring motion to extend time in which to appeal before provincial judge, having apparently been redirected to do so by court staff, but motion was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction because it had already been dismissed. Accused’s fines cumulatively totalled over $20,000. Application allowed, leave to appeal granted. Throughout all of proceedings, there was no reference to accused’s mental illness or any significant reference to his ability to pay substantial fines imposed upon him. There was important public interest in case, and there was arguable issue that related to due administration of justice. Although offences were relatively serious, accused faced very significant amount of fines, surcharges, and costs that was draconian in its impact on him personally. It was in public interest to determine whether some accommodation should have been made for individuals with significant personal disabilities. It was at least arguable that lower court did not consider appropriate factors in determining issues before it, and, perhaps more importantly, closed off any opportunity for broader public interest issue to be raised. It was at least arguable that provincial judge did not appear to take some factors into account, as accused was prevented from having appeal court consider totality of fines and surcharges. In particular circumstances of case, due administration of justice was implicated, and broader public interest issues involved were not considered.
R. v. E. (A.) (Nov. 21, 2013, Ont. C.A., P. Lauwers J.A., In Chambers, File No. CA M41972, M41973) 110 W.C.B. (2d) 282.

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