R. v. Gagnon (L.), (2006) 347 N.R. 355 (SCC)

JudgeBastarache, LeBel, Deschamps, Fish and Abella, JJ.
CourtSupreme Court (Canada)
Case DateMay 04, 2006
JurisdictionCanada (Federal)
Citations(2006), 347 N.R. 355 (SCC);2006 SCC 17;37 CR (6th) 209;347 NR 355;[2006] ACS no 17;[2006] 1 SCR 621;[2006] SCJ No 17 (QL);JE 2006-961;207 CCC (3d) 353;[2006] CarswellQue 3559;266 DLR (4th) 1;69 WCB (2d) 278

R. v. Gagnon (L.) (2006), 347 N.R. 355 (SCC)

MLB headnote and full text

[French language version follows English language version]

[La version française vient à la suite de la version anglaise]

....................

Temp. Cite: [2006] N.R. TBEd. MY.006

Her Majesty The Queen (appellant) v. Luc Gagnon (respondent)

(31148; 2006 SCC 17; 2006 CSC 17)

Indexed As: R. v. Gagnon (L.)

Supreme Court of Canada

Bastarache, LeBel, Deschamps, Fish and Abella, JJ.

May 4, 2006.

Summary:

The accused was convicted of sexually as­saulting a young child (under age five) at a daycare operated by his wife. The accused ap­pealed.

The Quebec Court of Appeal, Chamber­land, J.A., dissenting, allowed the appeal on the ground that the trial judge's reasons for judgment were not sufficient. The Crown ap­pealed.

The Supreme Court of Canada, Deschamps and Fish, JJ., dissenting, allowed the appeal and restored the conviction. The trial judge's reasons for judgment were sufficient, as they adequately demonstrated the rationale behind her conclusions on credibility and reasonable doubt. The Court of Appeal impermissibly dis­agreed with the trial judge's assessment of credibility absent an overriding error in the appreciation of the law or the evidence. The trial judge's reasons were not "insufficient" merely because the Court of Appeal dis­agreed with her conclusion that the evidence supported her credibility findings.

Courts - Topic 583

Judges - Duties - Re reasons for decisions - [See both Criminal Law - Topic 4684 ].

Criminal Law - Topic 4684

Procedure - Judgments and reasons for judg­ment - Reasons for judgment - Suf­ficiency of - The Supreme Court of Can­ada stated that "reasons are required from a trial judge to demonstrate the basis for an acquittal or conviction. Failure to do so is an error of law. Finding an error of law due to insufficient reasons requires two stages of analysis: (1) are the reasons in­adequate; (2) if so, do they prevent appel­late review? In other words, ... even if the reasons are objectively inadequate, they some­times do not prevent appellate review because the basis for the verdict is obvious on the face of the record. But if the rea­sons are both inadequate and inscrutable, a new trial is required." - See paragraph 13.

Criminal Law - Topic 4684

Procedure - Judgments and reasons for judg­ment - Reasons for judgment - Suf­ficiency of - The accused was convicted of sexually assaulting a young girl (under age five) at a daycare operated by his wife - The trial judge provided reasons for ac­cepting the girl's statements as credible and for rejecting the accused's denial as not credible - The conviction was set aside on appeal, as the Court of Appeal held that the reasons for rejecting the accused's cred­ibility were not sufficient - The Su­preme Court of Canada restored the con­vic­tion - The trial judge's reasons were sufficient, as they adequately demonstrated the rationale behind her conclusions on cred­ibility and reasonable doubt - The Court of Appeal impermissibly disagreed with the trial judge's assessment of credi­bility absent an overriding error in the ap­preciation of the law or the evidence - The trial judge's reasons were not "insuf­ficient" merely because the Court of Ap­peal dis­agreed with her conclusion that the evi­dence supported her credibility findings.

Practice - Topic 8820

Appeals - General principles - Duty of ap­pellate court re findings of credibility by trial judge - The Supreme Court of Canada held that the test applicable to a review of a trial judge's finding on credibility was "the appeal court must defer to the conclu­sions of the trial judge unless a palpable or overriding error can be shown. It is not enough that there is a difference of opinion with the trial judge" - See paragraph 10.

Practice - Topic 8820

Appeals - General principles - Duty of ap­pellate court re findings of credibility by trial judge - [See second Criminal Law - Topic 4684 ].

Cases Noticed:

R. v. Khan, [1990] 2 S.C.R. 531; 113 N.R. 53; 41 O.A.C. 353, refd to. [para. 7].

Minister of National Revenue v. Schwartz, [1996] 1 S.C.R. 254; 193 N.R. 241, refd to. [para. 10].

H.L. v. Canada (Attorney General) et al., [2005] 1 S.C.R. 401; 333 N.R. 1; 262 Sask.R. 1; 347 W.A.C. 1; 2005 SCC 25, refd to. [para. 10].

R. v. Burke (J.) (No. 3), [1996] 1 S.C.R. 474; 194 N.R. 247; 139 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 147; 433 A.P.R. 147, refd to. [para. 10].

R. v. Lavoie, [2003] Q.J. No. 1474 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 10].

Housen v. Nikolaisen et al., [2002] 2 S.C.R. 235; 286 N.R. 1; 219 Sask.R. 1; 272 W.A.C. 1; 2002 SCC 33, refd to. [para. 10].

R. v. Sheppard (C.), [2002] 1 S.C.R. 869; 284 N.R. 342; 211 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 50; 633 A.P.R. 50; 2002 SCC 26, refd to. [para. 11].

R. v. Burns (R.H.), [1994] 1 S.C.R. 656; 165 N.R. 374; 42 B.C.A.C. 161; 67 W.A.C. 161, refd to. [para. 12].

R. v. Braich (A.) et al., [2002] 1 S.C.R. 903; 285 N.R. 162; 164 B.C.A.C. 1; 268 W.A.C. 1; 2002 SCC 27, refd to. [para. 14].

R. v. D.R., H.R. and D.W., [1996] 2 S.C.R. 291; 197 N.R. 321; 144 Sask.R. 81; 124 W.A.C. 81, refd to. [para. 14].

R. v. R.W., [1992] 2 S.C.R. 122; 137 N.R. 214; 54 O.A.C. 164, refd to. [para. 38].

R. v. Biniaris (J.), [2000] 1 S.C.R. 381; 252 N.R. 204; 134 B.C.A.C. 161; 219 W.A.C. 161; 2000 SCC 15, refd to. [para. 38].

R. v. Corbett, [1975] 2 S.C.R. 275; 1 N.R. 258, refd to. [para. 43].

R. v. Yebes, [1987] 2 S.C.R. 168; 78 N.R. 351, refd to. [para. 43].

R. v. Harper, [1982] 1 S.C.R. 2; 40 N.R. 255, refd to. [para. 49].

R. v. Kerr (M.D.J.S.), [2004] Man.R.(2d) Uned. 14; 48 M.V.R.(4th) 201; 2004 MBCA 30, refd to. [para. 53].

R. v. Buckingham (S.L.) (2004), 187 O.A.C. 140 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 53].

R. v. J.B. (2004), 200 B.C.A.C. 115; 237 W.A.C. 115; 2004 BCCA 342, refd to. [para. 53].

R. v. James (R.E.) (2005), 230 N.S.R.(2d) 12; 729 A.P.R. 12; 193 C.C.C.(3d) 340; 2005 NSCA 22, refd to. [para. 53].

R. v. Maharaj (Y.) (2004), 187 O.A.C. 101; 71 O.R.(3d) 388 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 56].

Counsel:

Daniel Grégoire, Henri-Pierre La Brie and Caroline Fontaine, for the appellant;

Brigitte Martin and Charles André Ashton, for the respondent.

Solicitors of Record:

Attorney General's prosecutor for Quebec, Longueuil, Quebec, for the appellant;

Ashton Martin, Longueuil, Quebec, for the respondent.

This appeal was heard on March 16, 2006, before Bastarache, LeBel, Deschamps, Fish and Abella, JJ., of the Supreme Court of Canada.

On May 4, 2006, the judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada was delivered in both official languages and the following opinions were filed:

Bastarache and Abella, JJ. (LeBel, J., concurring) - see paragraphs 1 to 25;

Deschamps and Fish, JJ., dissenting - see paragraphs 26 to 65.

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