Ontario Criminal


Reasons did not articulate any connection between evidence and law and verdicts

Accused appealed his conviction for impaired driving. Impugned decision also acquitted accused on charge of driving over .08. Officers saw truck on shoulder of highway, and saw that male was standing outside vehicle urinating. Officers stopped to make sure that everything was okay. As officers approached truck, they noticed that its headlights were still on. Female officer assumed from this that keys were still in ignition, but she could not recall ever actually seeing keys in ignition. Keys were not subsequently found on accused’s person. Officers testified accused exhibited indicia of impairment and there was strong odour of alcohol coming from him. Accused struggled with finding documentation and was not registered owner of truck. Accused, who claimed not to have been drinking, failed ASD test and was taken to detachment. Accused gave BAC readings of 138 and 121. Appeal allowed; new trial ordered. In his reasons for judgment trial judge sufficiently outlined basic factual foundation of case and, with reasonable clarity, articulated issues by outlining respective positions of parties. However, thereafter, trial judge did not expressly analyze evidence or issues raised by parties. Nor did trial judge expressly draw any factual inferences, or clearly make any findings of fact (or determinations of credibility) from evidence he reviewed. Beyond brief, conclusory statement as to verdicts trial judge had reached, no further analysis was provided by trial judge. Such reasons were simply not legally sufficient. Reasons by trial judge did not articulate any logical connection between evidence and law and verdicts. While trial judge held that accused was guilty of first charge, trial judge did not expressly find either that accused was in “care or control” of motor vehicle; or that ability of accused to operate motor vehicle was impaired by alcohol. Both of these key factual issues were contested by accused at trial, constituted essential elements of alleged offence, and yet were left unresolved by trial judge. It was only by implication, reasoning backwards from verdict, that one could conclude that trial judge must have silently drawn these factual conclusions. Reasons contained no explanation as to why trial judge impliedly drew those factual conclusions. It was not enough for trial judge simply to recall evidence accurately, rehearse arguments of parties, and then announce his or her verdicts.

R. v. Tong (Mar. 24, 2014, Ont. S.C.J., Kenneth L. Campbell J., File No. 83/13) 112 W.C.B. (2d) 310.

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