The Trial Judge's Duty to Give Reasons for Judgment in Criminal Cases
Canadian Criminal Law Review, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp. 19-35, 2009
17 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2010
Date Written: 2009
In 2002, the Supreme Court of Canada held that a trial judge sitting without a jury in a criminal case has a duty to give reasons for the conviction or acquittal of an accused. Since 2002, decisions of Canadian appellate courts have given this duty quite significant content by providing several specific and helpful guidelines for trial judges' reasons. In 2008, the Supreme Court released five decisions that considered the duty to give reasons. While these decisions confirmed the existence of and the rationale for the duty, the Court's general comments about the duty may permit trial judges to be less explicit in giving reasons for judgment and may thus have weakened the content of the duty. This possible diminution of the content of the duty is particularly clear in the court's articulation of the trial judge's duty to give reasons for adverse credibility findings and for assessing the accused's testimony.
Keywords: trial judge, criminal case, duty to give reasons, adverse credibility findings, testimony
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