Murder & Criminal Appeal

April 5, 2023

R v Oakes, 2016 ABCA 90 (CanLII)

Mr. Royer conducted the trial in the case of R. v. Oakes, a murder trial in Medicine Hat. The sole Crown witness was cross-examined, and Mr. Royer showed that there were over 50 inconsistencies in the eye witness’s testimony. Despite the numerous contradictions the jury convicted.

The appellant, Connie Jean Oakes, sought to overturn her conviction by a jury of the second-degree murder. She raised various grounds of appeal, including that her conviction was the result of a miscarriage of justice, contrary to section 686(1)(a)(iii) of the Criminal Code of Canada, RSC 1985, c C-46 [Criminal Code]. That conviction was based on the identification evidence of a single witness, Wendy Scott.

In a split decision the panel of three judges acknowledged the issues at her first trial.

“Any undue weight the jury may have placed on Ms. Scott’s testimony is of concern because her testimony was particularly unreliable and could otherwise have left the jury with a reasonable doubt,” reads the decision.

“We conclude that a miscarriage of justice has occurred with the result that the appeal is allowed and a new trial is ordered.”

‘No jury should’ve convicted her’

Oakes’s Edmonton trial lawyer Daryl Royer said the outcome of the trial had him doubting the legal system and considered quitting law.

“If the law goes this far astray or this strange, then it causes me to doubt my faith in it,” Royer said. “On the evidence that the jury had, there was no chance of conviction.”

“No jury should’ve convicted her, and she maintains that she didn’t do it, and Wendy Scott is saying, ‘Actually, I wasn’t there, and neither was Connie Oakes.’ ”

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