Appeal from conviction on charges including being a party to robbery. Issue as to whether the interventions of the trial judge resulted in an unfair trial. Trial judge intervened a number of times in the questioning of witnesses (including the accused).
Held: Appeal allowed. New trial.
“The trial judge did enter into the fray and, in the process, asked questions which were helpful to the Crown, [and] other questions which directly challenged the credibility of the appellant … The cumulative effect of this judicial examination undermined the appearance of a fair trial.” Regarding defence counsel’s failure to object at trial, “objecting to questions put by a trial judge whose responsibility it is to decide the appellant’s fate, is a delicate task at best, and counsel may be forgiven for not rising to the challenge.”
P. Milczarek – Defence Counsel