Her Majesty The Queen v. Patrick Dussault
(Quebec) (Criminal) (By Leave)
Constitutional law - Criminal law — Charter of Rights — Right to counsel — Appeal — Power of intervention — Palpable error — Whether Court of Appeal erred regarding scope of its power of intervention by making its own assessment of facts even though it had identified no palpable error made by trial judge — Whether Court of Appeal erred in law in establishing principle of “continuous” right to counsel that departs from principles from this Court’s decision in R. v. Sinclair, 2010 SCC 35,  2 S.C.R. 310, by allowing second consultation despite absence of objective facts that would make it necessary — Whether Court of Appeal erred in law in determining whether legal assistance obtained was sufficient from perspective of counsel without regard to testimony of accused and to findings of fact of trial judge, who noted that accused had understood.
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The respondent, Patrick Dussault, was arrested for murder and arson. Before his trial, he moved to exclude from the evidence an incriminating statement he had made to the police while being questioned; the reason he gave was that the statement had been obtained as the result of a violation of his right to counsel protected by s. 10(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. A voir dire was held. The trial judge dismissed the motion and found that the respondent’s statement was admissible in evidence. At his trial, the jury then found the respondent guilty of second degree murder.
The respondent appealed the verdict. He argued that the trial judge had erred in dismissing the motion to exclude the incriminating statement and in finding that his right to counsel under s. 10(b) had not been violated. The respondent submitted that, in his telephone conversation with his lawyer, the latter had started to advise him but had not finished doing so, and that the refusal of the police to allow the respondent to continue that consultation when his lawyer arrived at the police station was a violation of the police duty to ensure the application of s. 10(b) of the Charter. The Court of Appeal unanimously allowed the appeal, set aside the guilty verdict and ordered a new trial.
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