Shane Rayshawn Vassell v. Her Majesty the Queen
(Alberta) (Criminal) (As of Right)
Canadian charter (Criminal).
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Constitutional law - Charter of Rights - Right to be tried within a reasonable time - Arbitrary detention - Right to counsel - Remedy - Whether the trial judge erred in finding that the appellant’s right to be tried in a reasonable time as required by s. 11(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was not infringed and therefore did not warrant a stay of proceedings pursuant to s. 24(1) of the Charter - Whether the trial judge erred in finding that the appellant was not subject to an arbitrary detention as defined by s. 9 of the Charter and in his interpretation of s. 503(1) of the Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46 - Whether the trial judge erred in finding that the appellant’s right to consult with counsel as guaranteed by s. 10(b) of the Charter was not infringed when he was subject to a change in jeopardy - Whether the trial judge erred in finding that the appellant’s statement should not be excluded pursuant to s. 24(2) of the Charter.
Mr. Vassell was convicted of one count of possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking under s. 5(2) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, S.C. 1996, c. 19. Cocaine was discovered by police in his bedroom in his residence, which he shared with many other individuals. His trial in the Court of Queen’s Bench began more than three years after he was arrested. The trial judge denied his request for a stay of proceedings based on a breach of his s. 11(b) Charter right to be tried within a reasonable time. The trial judge also dismissed a motion for a mistrial brought by Mr. Vassell on the basis of a misunderstanding by the trial judge as to telephone intercept evidence. In addition, the trial judge admitted into evidence a recorded interview of Mr. Vassell by the police. Mr. Vassell appealed his conviction on the grounds that the trial judge erred in denying the stay of proceedings, erred in dismissing the mistrial motion, erred in admitting into evidence the recorded interview as it was obtained in breach of Mr. Vassell’s s. 9 Charter right not to be arbitrarily detained and of his s. 10 Charter right to counsel, and reached an unreasonable verdict. The majority of the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. O’Ferrall J.A., dissenting, agreed with the majority that the trial judge did not err in denying the mistrial motion and did not reach an unreasonable verdict. He was of the view, however, that the trial judge erred in failing to grant a stay of proceedings on the basis of unreasonable delay, and, in the alternative, in admitting Mr. Vassell’s statements to police despite breaches of ss. 9, 10(a) and 10(b) of the Charter. He would have allowed the appeal, overturned the conviction and granted a stay of proceedings on the basis that Mr. Vassell’s s. 11 Charter rights were infringed since he was not brought to trial within a reasonable time. In the alternative, he would have ordered a new trial on the basis that Mr. Vassell’s ss. 9 and 10 Charter rights were breached and his statement to police should have been excluded under s. 24(2) of the Charter.
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