R. v. L.L., (2013) 570 A.R. 287 (QB)

JudgeThomas, J.
CourtCourt of Queen's Bench of Alberta (Canada)
Case DateMay 31, 2013
Citations(2013), 570 A.R. 287 (QB);2013 ABQB 531

R. v. L.L. (2013), 570 A.R. 287 (QB)

MLB headnote and full text

Temp. Cite: [2013] A.R. TBEd. SE.070

Her Majesty the Queen (respondent/cross-applicant) v. L.L. (applicant/cross-respondent)

(100163773Q1; 2013 ABQB 531)

Indexed As: R. v. L.L.

Alberta Court of Queen's Bench

Judicial District of Edmonton

Thomas, J.

September 16, 2013.

Summary:

The accused was found not guilty of sexual offences allegedly committed against the three teenaged daughters of his former common-law partner. The court found that the daughters' allegations were fabricated and the prosecution was a product of the partner's malice. The accused applied for costs against the Crown. The Crown cross-applied for the court to recuse itself on the costs application on the basis of a reasonable apprehension of bias.

The Alberta Court of Queen's Bench dismissed the recusal application, finding that there was no reasonable apprehension of bias. The costs application was allowed. The Crown was ordered to pay the accused $5,971.83 for its misconduct during the trial, and solicitor and own client costs (full indemnity) for the accused's legal costs in bringing the costs application and responding to the recusal application.

Editor's Note: Certain names in the following case have been initialized or the case otherwise edited to prevent the disclosure of identities where required by law, publication ban, Maritime Law Book's editorial policy or otherwise.

Courts - Topic 691

Judges - Disqualification - Bias - Reasonable apprehension of bias - The Alberta Court of Queen's Bench set out the test to be applied when a party sought a judge's recusal on the basis of bias: "what would an informed person, viewing the matter realistically and practically - and having thought the matter through - conclude. Would he think that it is more likely than not that [the decision-maker], whether consciously or unconsciously, would not decide fairly" - The test was objective and required that the observer know the entire context of the alleged bias scenario - A bias allegation challenged the strong presumption of judicial impartiality and could not succeed without "substantial" grounds for the allegation - The court referred to an appellate decision that stressed the disruptive effects of an unnecessary recusal motion: "1. recusal is a mechanism to engage in 'judge shopping'; 2. recusal inevitably causes expense to the public and parties; 3. unnecessary recusal tarnishes the reputation of the courts with the result that '... the courts and all Canadian justice would look at least incompetent and Dickensian'; 4. recusal may eliminate the available judicial pool; 5. recusal may impede the rarely exercised but important right of a judge to sue on his or her own behalf; 6. overly aggressive approaches to recusal subvert attempts to operate courts in an efficient manner and delay justice; and 7. some prior connection between a judge and potential litigants is almost inevitable." - See paragraphs 4 to 8.

Courts - Topic 691

Judges - Disqualification - Bias - Reasonable apprehension of bias - The Alberta Court of Queen's Bench stated that "reasonable bias is not established during a court proceeding when a judge makes a decision in favour of one party over the other, but other decisions still then follow. ... Nor is it an indication of bias that a judge indicate that the judge may initially favour a particular approach, outcome, or result. ... a judge need not mince words and may be direct and emphatic in disapproval of conduct. To do so does not indicate bias. ... My specific role is to comment on either Crown or defence lawyer conduct that impedes the proper administration of justice. ... An unpleasant reality of today's courtrooms is that not all its participants use this forum for legitimate purposes. If falls to judges to comment on this phenomenon." - See paragraphs 16, 17, 19, 25, 27.

Courts - Topic 691

Judges - Disqualification - Bias - Reasonable apprehension of bias - The accused was found not guilty of sexual offences allegedly committed against the three teenaged daughters of his former common-law partner - The daughters fabricated their allegations and the prosecution resulted from the partner's malice - The accused sought costs against the Crown - The Crown sought to have the court recuse itself on the costs application on the basis of a reasonable apprehension of bias - The court criticized the police investigation and the Crown's failure to properly review and reconsider the complainants' evidence and for stubbornly plowing on with the prosecution to the bitter end when it became apparent that the complaints were false - The court reserved judgment on any costs application the accused wished to bring - The court also directed that a transcript be prepared for free and given to the accused - The court indicated that it would forward the transcript to the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General if the accused so requested - The Crown argued that the cited passages raised a reasonable apprehension of bias because the court suggested that the proceeding was sufficiently flawed that it warranted review by government authorities, invited an application for costs (usually a civil remedy), and unfairly denigrated Crown counsel by stressing the weakness of the Crown's case - The Crown argued that an objective observer would conclude that the court had already decided to award costs; that the only issue was quantum - The Alberta Court of Queen's Bench declined to recuse itself - A judge's duty required forthright and direct evaluation of the scale and kind of misconduct and the court was not required to "mince words" when assigning misconduct - If Crown counsel acted in a manner inconsistent with his or her duty as an officer of the court, the court had a duty to identify that misconduct - The court stated that "a fully informed public observer would not conclude that my comments raise a reasonable concern that I am unable to discharge my judicial obligations in response to [the accused's] application for costs." - See paragraphs 15 to 33.

Criminal Law - Topic 26

General principles - Prosecution of crime - Prosecutorial discretion - The Alberta Court of Queen's Bench generally discussed the nature and scope of prosecutorial discretion - The court referred to the "core elements" of prosecutorial discretion identified by the Supreme Court of Canada: "(a) the discretion whether to bring the prosecution of a charge laid by police; (b) the discretion to enter a stay of proceedings in either a private or public prosecution, as codified in the Criminal Code ...; (c) the discretion to accept a guilty plea to a lesser charge; (d) the discretion to withdraw from criminal proceedings altogether ... and (e) the discretion to take control of a private prosecution ..." - The court held that the exercise of prosecutorial discretion did not automatically shield the Crown from having costs awarded against it for misconduct in appropriate circumstances - See paragraph 55.

Criminal Law - Topic 4591

Procedure - Costs - Against the Crown - The Alberta Court of Queen's Bench stated that "cost awards against the Crown have a distinct function, to discourage Crown misconduct and exercise discipline when misconduct does occur" - A potential civil remedy for an accused did not displace a court's authority to award costs against the Crown, nor did the remedy of a stay of proceedings for abuse of process - The authority to awards costs extended to instances of prosecutorial discretion - The court stated that "A costs award against the Crown is appropriate in a criminal proceeding: 1. in the absence of prosecutorial misconduct when: a) there are exceptional circumstances; or b) conduct by the police or systemic failures are so extraordinary as to be unique in character; or 2. prosecutorial misconduct has occurred and that misconduct objectively: a) goes well beyond inadvertence or carelessness, and amounts to oppressive or otherwise improper conduct; and b) involves a marked and unacceptable departure from the reasonable standards expected of the Crown." - See paragraphs 34 to 68.

Criminal Law - Topic 4591

Procedure - Costs - Against the Crown - The accused was charged with sexual offences against the three teenaged daughters of his former common-law partner - By the time of the close of the Crown's case, it was clear that the daughters fabricated their allegations and that the prosecution was influenced by the partner's clear malice towards the accused - Notwithstanding what was then apparent, the Crown continued to pursue a conviction to the bitter end, forcing the accused to mount a defence - The Alberta Court of Queen's Bench found sufficiently serious Crown misconduct to warrant costs against the Crown - The R.C.M.P. investigation was improper and the Crown knew there were problems with the manner of investigation, particularly the questioning of the daughters - The Crown prosecutor was the same lawyer who acted for the Crown in a related case against the accused where the partner was the complainant - In that case, it became apparent during the trial that the partner was not credible and the Crown invited the court to dismiss the charges against the accused - The partner was a key witness in the present charges and the same Crown counsel offered her up as a credible witness - The court stated that once the Crown closed its case, it should have invited the court to dismiss the charges, as at that point there was no question that the charges were not proved beyond a reasonable doubt - The Crown was ordered to pay the accused $5,971.83 for its misconduct during the trial, and solicitor and own client costs (full indemnity) for the accused's legal costs in bringing the costs application and responding to the recusal application - See paragraphs 34 to 103.

Criminal Law - Topic 4593

Procedure - Costs - For oppressive, improper, abusive, frivolous, etc. conduct (incl. trial judge) - [See both Criminal Law - Topic 4591 ].

Practice - Topic 7350

Costs - Costs in criminal proceedings - Payable by Crown - Conduct of Crown - [See both Criminal Law - Topic 4591 ].

Cases Noticed:

Wewayakum Indian Band v. Canada and Wewayakai Indian Band, [2003] 2 S.C.R. 259; 309 N.R. 201; 2003 SCC 45, refd to. [para. 4].

Committee for Justice and Liberty Foundation et al. v. National Energy Board et al., [1978] 1 S.C.R. 369; 9 N.R. 115; 68 D.L.R.(3d) 716, refd to. [para. 5].

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R. v. Sydel (E.N.M.), [2010] B.C.T.C. Uned. 1473; 2010 D.T.C. 5141; 2010 BCSC 1473, affd. [2011] B.C.A.C. Uned. 34; 2011 BCCA 103, leave to appeal refused (2011), 428 N.R. 389; 313 B.C.A.C. 320; 533 W.A.C. 320 (S.C.C.), refd to. [para. 15].

R. v. Werner (H.R.), [2005] A.R. Uned. 736; 205 C.C.C.(3d) 556; 2005 NWTCA 5, refd to. [para. 16].

R. v. Teskey (L.M.) (1995), 167 A.R. 122; 28 Alta. L.R.(3d) 196 (Q.B.), refd to. [para. 16].

L.N. v. S.M. (2007), 412 A.R. 232; 404 W.A.C. 232; 284 D.L.R.(4th) 1; 2007 ABCA 258, refd to. [para. 16].

R. v. Bertram, 1989 CarswellOnt 1511 (H.C.J.), refd to. [para. 17].

R. v. R.D.S., [1997] 3 S.C.R. 484; 218 N.R. 1; 161 N.S.R.(2d) 241; 477 A.P.R. 241; 151 D.L.R.(4th) 193, refd to. [para. 18].

Continuing Care Employers' Bargaining Association et al. v. Alberta Union of Provincial Employees et al. (2002), 303 A.R. 137; 273 W.A.C. 137; 2002 ABCA 148, refd to. [para. 18].

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R. v. Moman (R.) (2010), 256 Man.R.(2d) 53; 2010 MBQB 178, leave to appeal denied (2011), 268 Man.R.(2d) 10; 520 W.A.C. 10; 2011 MBCA 34, refd to. [para. 19].

Cunningham v. Lilles et al., [2010] 1 S.C.R. 331; 399 N.R. 326; 283 B.C.A.C. 280; 480 W.A.C. 280; 2010 SCC 10, refd to. [para. 23].

R. v. Cunningham - see Cunningham v. Lilles et al.

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Krieger et al. v. Law Society of Alberta, [2002] 3 S.C.R. 372; 293 N.R. 201; 312 A.R. 275; 281 W.A.C. 275; 2002 SCC 65, refd to. [para. 55].

R. v. O'Connor (H.P.), [1995] 4 S.C.R. 411; 191 N.R. 1; 68 B.C.A.C. 1; 112 W.A.C. 1; 130 D.L.R.(4th) 235, refd to. [para. 56].

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R. v. Zazulak (1991), 47 O.A.C. 386; 12 W.C.B.(2d) 186 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 58].

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R. v. Pawloski (M.) (1993), 61 O.A.C. 276; 12 O.R.(3d) 709; 101 D.L.R.(4th) 267 (C.A.), leave to appeal denied (1993), 160 N.R. 320 (S.C.C.), refd to. [para. 67].

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R. v. Lifchus (W.), [1997] 3 S.C.R. 320; 216 N.R. 215; 118 Man.R.(2d) 218; 149 W.A.C. 218; 150 D.L.R.(4th) 733, refd to. [para. 97].

Counsel:

Jason R. Russell (Alberta Department of Justice, Criminal Justice Division, Appeals Branch), for the Crown;

Maureen McConaghy, Q.C. (Ross Hepner), for the accused.

These applications were heard on May 31, 2013, before Thomas, J., of the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench, Judicial District of Edmonton, who delivered the following judgment on September 16, 2013.

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7 practice notes
  • R. v. Eddy (D.M.), (2014) 583 A.R. 217 (QB)
    • Canada
    • Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta (Canada)
    • March 20, 2014
    ...[2008] A.W.L.D. 199; 2007 ABPC 268, folld. [para. 87]. R. v. Boucher, [1955] S.C.R. 16; 10 C.C.C. 263, refd to. [para. 88]. R. v. L.L. (2013), 570 A.R. 287; 300 C.C.C.(3d) 345; 2013 ABQB 531, refd to. [para. 89]. R. v. McClure (D.E.), [2001] 1 S.C.R. 445; 266 N.R. 275; 142 O.A.C. 201; 2001 ......
  • R v Stephan, 2019 ABQB 611
    • Canada
    • Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta (Canada)
    • August 8, 2019
    ...is not, on its own, a basis for finding either a reasonable apprehension of bias or actual bias, nor need a judge “mince words”: R v LL, 2013 ABQB 531 at paras 16-19, 570 AR 287, rev’d on other grounds, 2015 ABCA 222, 602 AR 178. I will discuss this further below under the topic “Recusal [1......
  • R v McClean, 2018 ABPC 285
    • Canada
    • Provincial Court of Alberta (Canada)
    • December 10, 2018
    ...(3d) 575; [2002] O.J. No. 1817 (ONCA); R. v. Robinson, 1999 ABCA 367; R. v. Griffin, 2011 ABCA 197; R. v. Taylor, 2008 NSCA 5; R. v. LL, 2013 ABQB 531; R. v. SEL, 2012 ABQB 377; Ward v. Vancouver (City), (2010) SCC 27; R. v. Kelln, (2003) SKQB 348; R. v. Branton, 2010 NLTD(G) 207; R. v. Gui......
  • R. v. Naugle (D.B.), (2016) 370 N.S.R.(2d) 204 (PC)
    • Canada
    • Nova Scotia Provincial Court of Nova Scotia (Canada)
    • February 22, 2016
    ...that the test for independence and impartiality should include that perception. [see footnote 3] [7] And, further on: 18 In R. v. L.L. , 2013 ABQB 531 the Court indicated that a judge is not creating an apprehension of bias by being openly critical of the Crown or defence counsel where such......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
7 cases
  • R. v. Eddy (D.M.), (2014) 583 A.R. 217 (QB)
    • Canada
    • Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta (Canada)
    • March 20, 2014
    ...[2008] A.W.L.D. 199; 2007 ABPC 268, folld. [para. 87]. R. v. Boucher, [1955] S.C.R. 16; 10 C.C.C. 263, refd to. [para. 88]. R. v. L.L. (2013), 570 A.R. 287; 300 C.C.C.(3d) 345; 2013 ABQB 531, refd to. [para. 89]. R. v. McClure (D.E.), [2001] 1 S.C.R. 445; 266 N.R. 275; 142 O.A.C. 201; 2001 ......
  • R v Stephan, 2019 ABQB 611
    • Canada
    • Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta (Canada)
    • August 8, 2019
    ...is not, on its own, a basis for finding either a reasonable apprehension of bias or actual bias, nor need a judge “mince words”: R v LL, 2013 ABQB 531 at paras 16-19, 570 AR 287, rev’d on other grounds, 2015 ABCA 222, 602 AR 178. I will discuss this further below under the topic “Recusal [1......
  • R v McClean, 2018 ABPC 285
    • Canada
    • Provincial Court of Alberta (Canada)
    • December 10, 2018
    ...(3d) 575; [2002] O.J. No. 1817 (ONCA); R. v. Robinson, 1999 ABCA 367; R. v. Griffin, 2011 ABCA 197; R. v. Taylor, 2008 NSCA 5; R. v. LL, 2013 ABQB 531; R. v. SEL, 2012 ABQB 377; Ward v. Vancouver (City), (2010) SCC 27; R. v. Kelln, (2003) SKQB 348; R. v. Branton, 2010 NLTD(G) 207; R. v. Gui......
  • R. v. Naugle (D.B.), (2016) 370 N.S.R.(2d) 204 (PC)
    • Canada
    • Nova Scotia Provincial Court of Nova Scotia (Canada)
    • February 22, 2016
    ...that the test for independence and impartiality should include that perception. [see footnote 3] [7] And, further on: 18 In R. v. L.L. , 2013 ABQB 531 the Court indicated that a judge is not creating an apprehension of bias by being openly critical of the Crown or defence counsel where such......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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