R. v. Noble (S.J.), (1997) 210 N.R. 321 (SCC)

JudgeIacobucci and Major, JJ.
CourtSupreme Court (Canada)
Case DateApril 24, 1997
JurisdictionCanada (Federal)
Citations(1997), 210 N.R. 321 (SCC);89 BCAC 1;6 CR (5th) 1;114 CCC (3d) 385;[1997] SCJ No 40 (QL);[1997] 1 SCR 874;1997 CanLII 388 (SCC);[1997] 6 WWR 1;210 NR 321;146 DLR (4th) 385;34 WCB (2d) 192;[1997] CarswellBC 711;43 CRR (2d) 233

R. v. Noble (S.J.) (1997), 210 N.R. 321 (SCC)

MLB headnote and full text

[French language version follows English language version]

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

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

Her Majesty The Queen (appellant) v. Sean Jeffrey Noble (respondent)

(25271)

Indexed As: R. v. Noble (S.J.)

Supreme Court of Canada

Lamer, C.J.C., La Forest, L'Heureux-Dubé,

Sopinka, Gonthier, Cory, McLachlin,

Iacobucci and Major, JJ.

April 24, 1997.

Summary:

The accused was convicted of breaking and entering with intent and possession of an instrument suitable for breaking into a motor vehicle. The trial judge commented that the accused's failure to testify in the face of an overwhelming case of identifi­cation permitted him to draw "almost an adverse inference" that "certainly may add to the weight of the Crown's case on the issue of identification". The accused appealed the conviction on the ground that, inter alia, the trial judge erred in drawing an adverse inference from his silence.

The British Columbia Court of Appeal, Southin, J.A., dissenting, in a judgment reported 75 B.C.A.C. 98; 123 W.A.C. 98, allowed the appeal, set aside the conviction and ordered a new trial. The court held that the trial judge erred in drawing an adverse inference from the accused's failure to tes­tify and using that as an element of proof in the Crown's case. The Crown appealed.

The Supreme Court of Canada, Lamer, C.J.C., McLachlin, La Forest and Gonthier, JJ., dissenting, dismissed the appeal. The right to silence and presumption of inno­cence precluded a trier of fact (judge or jury) from drawing an adverse inference from an accused's failure to testify. Ac­cordingly, the Court of Appeal was correct in ordering a new trial.

Civil Rights - Topic 3160

Trials - Due process, fundamental justice and fair hearings - Criminal and quasi-criminal proceedings - Right to remain silent (Charter, s. 7) - [See Criminal Law - Topic 5314 ].

Civil Rights - Topic 3160

Trials - Due process, fundamental justice and fair hearings - Criminal and quasi-criminal proceedings - Right to remain silent (Charter, s. 7) - The Supreme Court of Canada stated that "alibi defences create exceptions to the right to silence. For example, while the accused generally has a right to silence during the investigative stage of a criminal proceeding, if an alibi defence is not disclosed in a sufficiently particularized form at a sufficiently early time to permit the police to investigate it prior to trial, the trier of fact may draw an adverse inference from the accused's pre-trial silence: ... Such a rule is one of ex­pediency: ... It is based upon the relative ease with which an alibi defence can be fabricated." - See paragraph 56.

Civil Rights - Topic 4903

Presumption of innocence - After convic­tion and pending appeal - The Supreme Court of Canada stated that "the presump­tion of innocence in s. 11(d) does not operate at the appeal level. However, the presumption of innocence is also found in s. 7 of the Charter and extends to other stages of the criminal process: ... In my view, the presumption of innocence does not operate with the same vigour in the context of an appeal of a conviction as it does at trial. After the guilty verdict has been entered, it is no longer incumbent on the Crown to establish guilt - that guilt having already been proved beyond a reasonable doubt - rather it is incumbent on the appellant to demonstrate an error at trial. In such a context, the presumption of innocence is not applied in the same man­ner as it is at trial. ... I conclude that the presumption of innocence under s. 7 in the context of an appeal of a conviction, if it applies at all, does not operate with the same force as it does in the setting of a trial." - See paragraphs 52 to 54.

Civil Rights - Topic 4947

Presumption of innocence - Evidence and proof - Inferences - Criminal cases - [See Criminal Law - Topic 5314 ].

Criminal Law - Topic 207

Common law defences - Alibi - [See second Civil Rights - Topic 3160 ].

Criminal Law - Topic 5314

Evidence - Witnesses - Inferences - From silence of accused or failure to explain - An accused, faced with what the trial judge labelled "overwhelming" iden­tification evidence calling for an explana­tion, did not testify - The trial judge drew an adverse inference, partially relying on the accused's silence to found guilt beyond a reasonable doubt - The Supreme Court of Canada affirmed that the trial judge erred - If a trier of fact was not otherwise convinced of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the accused's silence could not be treated as a distinct piece of evidence to be weighed with other evidence to find guilt - The court rejected the notion that "when the Crown presents a case to meet that implicates the accused in a 'strong and cogent network of inculpatory facts', the trier of fact is entitled to consider the accused's failure to testify in deciding whether it is in fact satisfied of his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt" - To do otherwise would violate an accused's Charter protected right to silence and presumption of innocence - An accused's silence could be used to confirm guilt beyond a reasonable doubt (e.g., no ex­planation which could raise a reasonable doubt) or as a basis to refuse to speculate about possible defences that might have been raised - The court stated that silence may not be placed on the evidentiary scales by the trier of fact or an appellate court - See paragraphs 1 to 62.

Cases Noticed:

R. v. Jenkins (1908), 14 C.C.C. 221 (B.C.C.A.), refd to. [paras. 11, 65].

Ibrahim v. R., [1914] A.C. 599 (P.C.), refd to. [para. 15].

R. v. Hebert, [1990] 2 S.C.R. 151; 110 N.R. 1; 77 C.R.(3d) 145; 57 C.C.C.(3d) 1; [1990] 5 W.W.R. 1; 47 B.C.L.R.(2d) 1, refd to. [para. 15].

R. v. Chambers (No. 2), [1990] 2 S.C.R. 1293; 119 N.R. 321; 59 C.C.C.(3d) 321, refd to. [para. 16].

Canada v. Amway Corp. et al., [1989] 1 S.C.R. 21; 91 N.R. 18, refd to. [para. 18].

R. v. Dubois, [1985] 2 S.C.R. 350; 62 N.R. 50; 66 A.R. 202; 48 C.R.(3d) 193; 22 C.C.C.(3d) 513; [1986] 1 W.W.R. 193; 41 Alta. L.R.(2d) 97; 18 C.R.R. 1; 23 D.L.R.(4th) 503, refd to. [paras. 21, 65, 115].

R. v. François (L.), [1994] 2 S.C.R. 827; 169 N.R. 241; 73 O.A.C. 161; 91 C.C.C.(3d) 289; 31 C.R.(4th) 201, refd to. [paras. 29, 65].

R. v. Lepage (J.P.), [1995] 1 S.C.R. 654; 178 N.R. 81; 79 O.A.C. 191; 95 C.C.C.(3d) 385, refd to. [paras. 31, 65].

R. v. M.B.P., [1994] 1 S.C.R. 555; 165 N.R. 321; 70 O.A.C. 161; 113 D.L.R.(4th) 461; 89 C.C.C.(3d) 289; 29 C.R.(4th) 209; 21 C.R.R.(2d) 1, refd to. [paras. 36, 64].

R. v. Johnson (P.D.) (1993), 61 O.A.C. 189; 12 O.R.(3d) 340 (C.A.), refd to. [paras. 38, 86].

R. v. Schwartz (D.L.) (1996), 84 B.C.A.C. 169; 137 W.A.C. 169 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 38].

R. v. Boss (1988), 30 O.A.C. 184; 46 C.C.C.(3d) 523 (C.A.), refd to. [paras. 43, 100].

Avon v. R., [1971] S.C.R. 650, refd to. [paras. 44, 65].

R. v. Pavlukoff (1953), 106 C.C.C. 249 (B.C.C.A.), refd to. [paras. 44, 71].

R. v. Leaney and Rawlinson, [1989] 2 S.C.R. 393; 99 N.R. 345; 99 A.R. 291; 50 C.C.C.(3d) 289, refd to. [paras. 45, 65].

R. v. Hutchison and Ambrose, [1977] 2 S.C.R. 717; 9 N.R. 431; 14 N.B.R.(2d) 452; 15 A.P.R. 452, refd to. [paras. 45, 65].

R. v. Marcoux, [1976] 1 S.C.R. 763; 4 N.R. 64, refd to. [paras. 45, 65].

Steinberg v. R., [1931] O.R. 22 (C.A.), affd. [1931] S.C.R. 421; 56 C.C.C. 9, refd to. [paras. 46, 65].

R. v. Corbett, [1975] 2 S.C.R. 275; 1 N.R. 258, refd to. [paras. 47, 65].

R. v. Lyons, [1987] 2 S.C.R. 309; 80 N.R. 161; 82 N.S.R.(2d) 271; 207 A.P.R. 271; 37 C.C.C.(3d) 1; 61 C.R.(3d) 1; 44 D.L.R.(4th) 193, refd to. [para. 51].

R. v. Potvin (R.), [1993] 2 S.C.R. 880; 155 N.R. 241; 66 O.A.C. 81; 83 C.C.C.(3d) 97, refd to. [para. 51].

R. v. Pearson (E.), [1992] 3 S.C.R. 665; 144 N.R. 243; 52 Q.A.C. 1; 77 C.C.C.(3d) 124; 17 C.R.(4th) 1, refd to. [para. 51].

R. v. Morales (M.), [1992] 3 S.C.R. 711; 144 N.R. 176, addendum 147 N.R. 335; 51 Q.A.C. 161; 77 C.C.C.(3d) 90, refd to. [para. 52].

R. v. Gardiner, [1982] 2 S.C.R. 368; 43 N.R. 361; 68 C.C.C.(2d) 477, refd to. [para. 52].

R. v. Branco (1993), 35 B.C.A.C. 201; 57 W.A.C. 201; 25 C.R.(4th) 370 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 53].

R. v. Maloney (V.) (1994), 136 N.S.R.(2d) 23; 388 A.P.R. 23 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 53].

R. v. Pabani (1992), 10 C.R.(4th) 381 (Ont. C.A.), refd to. [para. 53].

R. v. Patel (M.) (1991), 42 Q.A.C. 77 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 53].

R. v. Albert (1987), 77 N.B.R.(2d) 269; 195 A.P.R. 269 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 53].

R. v. Demyen (1975), 26 C.C.C.(2d) 324 (Sask. C.A.), refd to. [para. 53].

R. v. Vézeau, [1977] 2 S.C.R. 277; 8 N.R. 235; 28 C.C.C.(2d) 81; 66 D.L.R.(3d) 418, refd to. [paras. 55, 65].

R. v. Cleghorn (L.), [1995] 3 S.C.R. 175; 186 N.R. 49; 85 O.A.C. 129; 100 C.C.C.(3d) 393, refd to. [para. 56].

R. v. Russel (1936), 67 C.C.C. 28 (S.C.C.), refd to. [para. 56].

R. v. Bogart (L.B.) (1993), 33 B.C.A.C. 225; 54 W.A.C. 225 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 61].

R. v. Burdett (1820), 4 B & Ald. 95; 106 E.R. 873, refd to. [para. 65].

R. v. Jackson (1991), 12 W.C.B.(2d) 270 (B.C.C.A.), refd to. [para. 77].

R. v. McConnell, [1968] S.C.R. 802, refd to. [para. 77].

R. v. Appleby, [1972] S.C.R. 303, refd to. [para. 93].

R. v. Holmes, [1988] 1 S.C.R. 914; 85 N.R. 21; 27 O.A.C. 321; 41 C.C.C.(3d) 497; 50 D.L.R.(4th) 680, refd to. [para. 93].

R. v. Whyte, [1988] 2 S.C.R. 3; 86 N.R. 328; 64 C.R.(3d) 123; 6 M.V.R.(2d) 138; [1988] 5 W.W.R. 26; 42 C.C.C.(3d) 97; 29 B.C.L.R.(2d) 273; 51 D.L.R.(4th) 481; 35 C.R.R. 1, refd to. [para. 93].

R. v. Downey and Reynolds, [1992] 2 S.C.R. 10; 136 N.R. 266; 125 A.R. 342; 14 W.A.C. 342, refd to. [para. 93].

R. v. Oakes, [1986] 1 S.C.R. 103; 65 N.R. 87; 14 O.A.C. 335; 26 D.L.R.(4th) 200; 50 C.R.(3d) 1; 24 C.C.C.(3d) 321; 19 C.R.R. 308, refd to. [para. 96].

Murray v. Director of Public Prosecutions (1993), 97 Cr. App. R. 151 (D.C.), refd to. [para. 102].

R. v. Cowan, [1995] 3 W.L.R. 818 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 103].

R. v. Weissensteiner (1993), 178 C.L.R. 217 (Aust. H.C.), refd to. [para. 105].

R. v. Kanaveilomani (1994), 72 A. Crim. R. 492 (C.A. Qld.), refd to. [para. 105].

Trompert v. Police, [1985] 1 N.Z.L.R. 357 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 105].

Hall v. Dunlop, [1959] N.Z.L.R. 1031, refd to. [para. 107].

Statutes Noticed:

Canada Evidence Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-5, sect. 4(6) [para. 3].

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 1982, sect. 7, sect. 11(c), sect. 11(d) [para. 3].

Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46, sect. 348(2)(a) [para. 92]; sect. 686(1) [para. 3].

Authors and Works Noticed:

Delisle, Ron J., Annotation to R. v. François (1994), 31 C.R.(4th) 203, p. 204 [paras. 33, 80].

Delisle, Ron J., Silence at Trial: Inferences and Comments (1997), 1 C.R.(5th) 313, pp. 318, 319 [para. 88].

Dennis, Ian, The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994: The Evidence Provisions, [1995] Crim. L. Rev. 4, generally [para. 104].

Jackson, John, The Right of Silence: Ju­dicial Responses to Parliamentary En­croachment (1994), 57 Mod. L. Rev. 270, generally [para. 104].

Munday, Roderick, Cum Tacent Clamant: Drawing Proper Inferences from a De­fendant's Failure to Testify (1996), 55 Cambridge L.J. 32, generally [para. 104].

Paciocco, David M., Charter Principles and Proof in Criminal Cases (1987), p. 495 [para. 88].

Ratushny, Ed, The Role of the Accused in the Criminal Process, The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Com­mentary (1st Ed. 1982), p. 359 [para. 115].

Counsel:

William F. Ehrcke, for the appellant;

Gil D. McKinnon, Q.C., and Tom Arbogast, for the respondent.

Solicitors of Record:

William F. Ehrcke, Vancouver, B.C., for the appellant;

Gil D. McKinnon, Q.C., Vancouver, B.C., for the respondent.

This appeal was heard on October 29, 1996, before Lamer, C.J.C., La Forest, L'Heureux-Dubé, Sopinka, Gonthier, Cory, McLachlin, Iacobucci and Major, JJ., of the Supreme Court of Canada.

On April 24, 1997, the judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada was delivered in both official languages and the following opinions were filed:

Sopinka, J. (L'Heureux-Dubé, Cory, Iacobucci and Major, JJ., concurring) - see paragraphs 1 to 62;

Lamer, C.J.C., dissenting - see para­graphs 63 to 113;

McLachlin, J., dissenting - see para­graphs 114 to 116;

La Forest, J. (Gonthier, J., concurring), dissenting - see paragraph 117.

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