R. v. Dominic (E.), 2016 ABCA 114

JudgeFraser, C.J.A., Rowbotham and McDonald, JJ.A.
CourtCourt of Appeal (Alberta)
Case DateFebruary 09, 2016
Citations2016 ABCA 114;(2016), 616 A.R. 356

R. v. Dominic (E.) (2016), 616 A.R. 356; 672 W.A.C. 356 (CA)

MLB headnote and full text

Temp. Cite: [2016] A.R. TBEd. AP.092

Her Majesty the Queen (respondent) v. Elia Dominic (appellant)

(1501-0085-A; 2016 ABCA 114)

Indexed As: R. v. Dominic (E.)

Alberta Court of Appeal

Fraser, C.J.A., Rowbotham and McDonald, JJ.A.

April 21, 2016.

Summary:

The accused admitted to having possessed cocaine, but maintained that it was for his personal use. The trial judge found beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused possessed the cocaine for the purpose of trafficking, in part on the basis of expert testimony from a police officer. The accused appealed his conviction on the basis that some of that testimony was inadmissible as expert evidence.

The Alberta Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal.

Evidence - Topic 1026

Relevant facts - Relevance and materiality - Admissibility - Prejudicial evidence - The accused admitted to having possessed cocaine, but maintained that it was for his personal use - The trial judge found that the accused possessed the cocaine for the purpose of trafficking, partly on the basis of expert testimony from a police officer (Larson) - The accused appealed his conviction on the basis that some of that testimony was inadmissible as expert evidence - The Alberta Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal - While the trial judge did not explicitly address the potential benefits and risks of admitting Larson's evidence, it was implicit in her qualification of Larson as an expert in certain defined areas that she found that his evidence would be more probative than prejudicial - The court also rejected the accused's argument that the impugned evidence on how much cocaine a user would typically buy and "binge use" was not legally relevant because it was not probative and highly prejudicial - See paragraphs 29 to 38.

Evidence - Topic 7000.5

Opinion evidence - Expert evidence - General - Nature and scope of - The accused admitted to having possessed cocaine, but maintained that it was for his personal use - The trial judge found that the accused possessed the cocaine for the purpose of trafficking, partly on the basis of expert testimony from a police officer (Larson) - The accused appealed his conviction on the basis that some of that testimony was inadmissible as expert evidence - The Alberta Court of Appeal stated that "Ideally, a vague term like 'practices and habits of cocaine users' would have been definitively defined in the voir dire. Nevertheless, ... Larson's testimony about cocaine being a binge drug and cocaine addicts typically consuming all they have bought falls within the scope of the 'practices and habits of users of cocaine'." - Alternatively, even if the impugned testimony did technically fall outside the areas for which the trial judge had qualified Larson as an expert, that would not necessarily be fatal - "The question, ultimately, is whether the witness has expertise in the area in question. In this case, Larson does have expertise on this point." - See paragraphs 39 to 44.

Evidence - Topic 7001

Opinion evidence - Expert evidence - General - Qualifications and declaration that a witness is an expert - The accused admitted to having possessed cocaine, but maintained that it was for his personal use - The trial judge found that the accused possessed the cocaine for the purpose of trafficking, partly on the basis of expert testimony from a police officer (Larson) - The accused appealed his conviction on the basis that some of that testimony was inadmissible as expert evidence - The Alberta Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal - The court held, inter alia, that the trial judge made no reviewable error in qualifying Larson as an expert on the practices and habits of users of cocaine - Whether Larson's experience and training were sufficient to qualify him as an expert in that matter was quintessentially a matter for the trial judge - The court stated that: "Regarding the criticism that Larson's experience comes only from 'anecdotal' reports of drug users, this is tantamount to challenging expertise gained through experience. 'Anecdotal evidence' is not a legal concept or a term of art but simply a way to describe second-hand evidence. It does not define, much less preclude, admissibility of that evidence. Being a qualified expert means having 'acquired special or peculiar knowledge through study or experience'... The mere fact that police experience about drug use is gained through information received from others does not, by itself, diminish the validity of the special knowledge acquired in this manner. The reality is that experience is often based on the accumulated wisdom of what some might describe as 'anecdotal' information learned on the job. Therefore, evidence gained by a police officer involved in the drug world, even though based in part on dealings with individual addicts, has, subject to the scope and depth of that experience, been accepted by the courts as sufficient to qualify the officer as an expert in drug use and how drug users behave, including rates of consumption ... It is not necessary that the police officer conduct a formal study or rely on one to substantiate the experience gained ..." - See paragraphs 21 to 23.

Evidence - Topic 7018

Opinion evidence - Expert evidence - General - Special knowledge and experience - What constitutes - [See Evidence - Topic 7001 ].

Counsel:

S.L. Tkatch, for the respondent;

J. Ruttan and N. Rodych, for the appellant.

This appeal was heard on February 9, 2016, by Fraser, C.J.A., Rowbotham and McDonald, JJ.A., of the Alberta Court of Appeal, who delivered the following memorandum of judgment on April 21, 2016.

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28 practice notes
  • R. v. Hajar (O.A.), 2016 ABCA 222
    • Canada
    • Court of Appeal (Alberta)
    • July 25, 2016
    ...at paras 12-13, [2000] 2 SCR 275; Mouvement laïque québécois v Saguenay (City) , 2015 SCC 16 at para 105, [2015] 2 SCR 3; R v Dominic , 2016 ABCA 114 at para 17. [58] All the materials adopted or relied on by Dr. Boyes were admissible in evidence since an expert witness's general body of kn......
  • R. v. Mills, 2019 ONCA 940
    • Canada
    • Court of Appeal (Ontario)
    • November 29, 2019
    ...group of people, does not, on its own, diminish its value (assuming it otherwise meets the other criteria for admission): R. v. Dominic, 2016 ABCA 114, 616 A.R. 356, at para. 22. [53] As noted by Doherty J.A. in Abbey (2009), at para. 109, scientific validity is not a precondition to the ad......
  • R v Howell, 2020 ABQB 385
    • Canada
    • Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta (Canada)
    • June 26, 2020
    ...R v Spence, [2005] 3 SCR 458; R v Caesar, 2016 ONCA 599; M v H, [1999] SCJ No 23; Francis v Baker, [1999] 3 SCR 250; R v Dominic, 2016 ABCA 114; and R v B(SA), 2003 SCC 60). The Court also considered the following cases: ANC Timber Ltd v Alberta (Minister of Agriculture and Forestry), 2019 ......
  • Slater v Pedigree Poultry Ltd.,
    • Canada
    • Court of Appeal (Saskatchewan)
    • October 7, 2022
    ...for correctness insofar as the proper articulation and application of the legal test is concerned” (R v Dominic, 2016 ABCA 114 at para 17, 335 CCC (3d) 178). Absent an error in principle, deference is owed to trial judges in relation to their decision to admit or reject expert e......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
26 cases
  • R. v. Hajar (O.A.), 2016 ABCA 222
    • Canada
    • Court of Appeal (Alberta)
    • July 25, 2016
    ...at paras 12-13, [2000] 2 SCR 275; Mouvement laïque québécois v Saguenay (City) , 2015 SCC 16 at para 105, [2015] 2 SCR 3; R v Dominic , 2016 ABCA 114 at para 17. [58] All the materials adopted or relied on by Dr. Boyes were admissible in evidence since an expert witness's general body of kn......
  • R. v. Mills, 2019 ONCA 940
    • Canada
    • Court of Appeal (Ontario)
    • November 29, 2019
    ...group of people, does not, on its own, diminish its value (assuming it otherwise meets the other criteria for admission): R. v. Dominic, 2016 ABCA 114, 616 A.R. 356, at para. 22. [53] As noted by Doherty J.A. in Abbey (2009), at para. 109, scientific validity is not a precondition to the ad......
  • R v Howell, 2020 ABQB 385
    • Canada
    • Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta (Canada)
    • June 26, 2020
    ...R v Spence, [2005] 3 SCR 458; R v Caesar, 2016 ONCA 599; M v H, [1999] SCJ No 23; Francis v Baker, [1999] 3 SCR 250; R v Dominic, 2016 ABCA 114; and R v B(SA), 2003 SCC 60). The Court also considered the following cases: ANC Timber Ltd v Alberta (Minister of Agriculture and Forestry), 2019 ......
  • Slater v Pedigree Poultry Ltd.,
    • Canada
    • Court of Appeal (Saskatchewan)
    • October 7, 2022
    ...for correctness insofar as the proper articulation and application of the legal test is concerned” (R v Dominic, 2016 ABCA 114 at para 17, 335 CCC (3d) 178). Absent an error in principle, deference is owed to trial judges in relation to their decision to admit or reject expert e......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Digest: R v Chung, 2018 SKCA 70
    • Canada
    • Saskatchewan Law Society Case Digests
    • August 18, 2019
    ...of trafficking. Cases Considered: R v Abbey, 2009 ONCA 624, 246 CCC (3d) 301 R v Abbey, 2017 ONCA 640, 350 CCC (3d) 102 R v Dominic, 2016 ABCA 114, 616 AR 356 R v George, 2017 SCC 38, 349 CCC (3d) 371 R v Graveline, 2006 SCC 16, [2006] 1 SCR 609, 347 NR 268, 266 DLR (4th) 42, 207 CCC (3d) 4......

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