Late One Night…


An Ontario Court of Appeal decision released earlier this month, R. v. Carroll, 2014 ONCA 2, reads more like an Elmore Leonard novel than a staid decision from a revered court.


The appeal covers all the legal ground, iterates and applies the legal issues thoroughly and is essentially structured as a typical decision.

But from its first paragraph — “Late one night, two blasts from a shotgun ended a lovers’ relationship in a remote camp north of Sudbury” — Justice David Watt employs gritty realist language in a sparse style that is as entertaining as it is decisive.

Along the lines of the quirky St. Catharines OCJ decision famously penned last year by Justice Fergus O’Donnell (first line: “You should get out of town”, the man said.”), Carroll is a good read, thorough and flourished. More restrained than the Free Man decision, Carroll it keeps a dime-novel pace, while applying the legal principles at issue in the appeal of a 2009 murder conviction.

For example: “The case for the Crown relied on circumstantial evidence. Evidence of motive and opportunity. Evidence of familiarity with, and access to, the killing ground.”

If you appreciate writing that sticks to the facts, a pared-down, yet elegant, approach to legal writing, and a clear organizational style, this decision is right up your alley.

The appeal considers and applies principles related to: Vetrovec caution, hearsay statements of the deceased, and bad character evidence.

The appeal was unanimously dismissed.

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