These are all short descriptions of trials I have won. The names are obviously withheld due to confidentiality concerns, but these are all real matters and the accused were all adults.
R. v. K.P. charge: Assault
August 1, 2012, Ontario Court of Justice, Scarborough
K.P. was a first time accused with no criminal record. When he first went to court, without counsel, he chose to give up his right to trial and take counselling for domestic abuse, even though he was innocent; always a bad move.
He missed his counselling sessions due to no fault of his own and was arrested again. When he finally came to me, he had been behind bars for five days with no idea what to do. I managed to bail him out and took both matters to trial.
On the first day of his assault trial, the Crown offered us a fairly good deal; they would drop one of the charges if he plead to the other and he wouldn’t get any jail time. This seemed like the easy way out, and he was sorely tempted to take the deal, but then told him that for his own self respect that he had to stand up and testify to let the world know that he was not the man that the police and the crown were making him out to be.
He reluctantly and fearfully agreed to plead not guilty, certain that the Judge would never believe him, but I knew better. The case against him was weak and most importantly, he was innocent. I gave him the faith to go to trial and sure enough, he was acquitted by a Judge with one of the toughest reputations in Toronto. I can ‘t think of a more rewarding feeling than that which I felt when I saw the look of joy on his face as we left court. I did this case on legal aid, but no amount of money, small or large, compares to the feeling of justification I felt that day, knowing that my instincts were right.
R. v. D. P. Charge of Assault Causing Bodily harm
June 6, 2012, Oshawa, Ontario Court of Justice
Once again on this matter, I had another situation where my client told me he was innocent and we put the matter down for trial, but on the trial date, he got cold feet at the last minute and wanted to plead guilty. I found that particularly strange in that the deal offered was for a high range of jail time under the circumstances and there was really nothing to lose by going to trial. My client once again felt that he would not be believed, and that he would not get a fair hearing because he was black and the trial was in Oshawa. In fairness, I cannot comment on the prevalence of racial bias on the Oshawa bench, but it seemed irrelevant anyway. The important point was that my client was telling me that he was innocent and his story had the ring of truth to it.
In the end, the complainant’s testimony was so weak that we did not even call any evidence and we won an acquittal quite easily. The crown attorney even offered a much lower deal after the complainant testified, which of course we rejected.
The moral of the story is that it takes a lot of guts for an accused to take a matter to trial, and that is why it is so easy for the Crown to pressure an unrepresented accused into taking a deal.
That is just one of the reasons why you should not go into court unrepresented under any circumstance. I find that it is very easy for non lawyers to misunderstand basic legal concepts, to give into pressure, and worst of all, to take advice from all the non-lawyers out there who ” heard something from somebody”! Please, leave it to the professionals!