OCA orders new trial for accused whose lawyer ‘conscripted him into assisting his own prosecution’

The Ontario Court of Appeal said counsel’s incompetence was ‘pervasive.’

By Julius Melnitzer | December 31, 2022

The Ontario Court of Appeal has ordered a new trial for an accused whose lawyer, Toronto’s Janice R. Johnson, a 35-year veteran of the criminal bar, “conscripted [him] into assisting his own prosecution.”

The OCA’s reasons are damning.

“Here, counsel’s incompetence was so pervasive, and her unilateral decision on behalf of the appellant so contrary to any notion of trial fairness, that appellate intervention is necessary,” stated Justice Jonathan George in R. v. McDonald on behalf of a unanimous panel also composed of Justices Alison Harvison Young and Sarah Pepall. “The appellant’s trial was in fact, and in appearance, unfair.”

This decision is the second time that the OCA has found Johnson’s representation ineffective enough for a successful appeal from conviction. MORE

Julius Melnitzer is a Toronto-based legal affairs writer, ghostwriter, writing coach and media trainer. Readers can reach him at [email protected] or https://legalwriter.net/contact.


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