Lockyer Zaduk Zeeh is renowned for its expertise in appellate advocacy, most notably at the Court of Appeal for Ontario and the Supreme Court of Canada. Lawyers at our firm have conducted literally hundreds of criminal appeals and have secured the exoneration of many persons convicted of crimes. Our achievements in this sphere of practice are unparalleled. We have played a transformative role in Canadian criminal law through the advancement of novel factual and legal issues. We have a proven track record of success in getting our clients’ appeals heard and their convictions overturned. Our appellate lawyers are highly skilled in crafting legal arguments that persuade appellate judges to rule in our clients’ favour.
We advance the interests of our clients on appeal in many different ways. A few examples include establishing that the trial judge made a significant error by admitting or refusing to admit evidence, improperly instructing the jury on a point of law, failing to permit cross-examination of a witness on an important issue, demonstrating bias against the person charged, or imposing a sentence that was unreasonable.
In some cases, evidence of innocence not presented at trial comes to light after a conviction and we are able to gather it for presentation to the Court of Appeal. Our long list of appellate cases, many of which have resulted in fundamental changes to the law, are reported in legal journals and are frequently cited by judges throughout Canada. We evaluate every appeal with scrutiny of the proceedings that unfolded at the trial below with a view toward exposing possible miscarriages of justice.
If you need assistance with an appeal, call LZZ at (416) 613-0416 or (416) 595-9500 or contact us online for a free consultation. LZZ’s vast experience and knowledge of the law and passion for justice make us Canada’s leading criminal appellate firm.
Common Questions Regarding Appeals
Grounds on Which to Appeal conviction and/or sentence the Court of Appeal for Ontario
Was key evidence missed by the judge
Commonly referred to as a “misapprehension of evidence”, this occurs when a trial judge fails to consider evidence relevant to a material issue. It can also be found when the trial judge has miscategorized the evidence or failed to properly appreciate it. Misapprehended evidence could be something as discreet as a trial judge confusing key timing, or as blatant as a judge forgetting to account for key pieces of evidence that were crucial to the case.
Did the jury properly instruct the jury on the law?
In a jury trial, the trial judge provides an instruction to the jury after all the evidence has been called. Known as a “jury charge”, this instruction is meant to summarize the important evidence and provide the jury with a guideline of how to apply the law. It is the jury that decides the facts, but the jury must follow the law as instructed by the judge. If a judge provides the wrong instruction or misstates the law, the result is an unfair trial.
Did the judge factor in your background when imposing sentence?
Sentences are meant to be individualized to the offender, their background, and the facts of the case. Sentencing principles require the sentencing judge to consider an offender’s background to ensure that the right sentence is imposed. If a judge fails to consider an offender’s background, the sentence may be unfit or arrived at in error.
Did the judge review the cases of all parties fairly and equally?
It is a long-standing principle that it is a trial judge’s duty to fairly review caselaw and the arguments of both parties. Failing to do either is an error that could potentially lead to the overturning of a conviction on appeal.
Were you able to fairly present your case?
Every accused person has the right to make full answer and defence, and to explore and respond to the allegations brought by the state. A court is not to interfere in that right. Judicial interference with an accused right to conduct their defence gives rise to a breach of the principles of natural justice, which is reviewable on appeal.
Was the law properly applied?
Judges are expected to know the law. Though trial judges are afforded deference on appeal, the failure to apply a legal principle is matter of severity for which a reviewing court will need to interfere and remedy.
Did you receive reasons from the judge?
A trial judge has a duty to give reasons for any ruling made. An accused person should not be left in doubt about why a conviction has been entered; likewise the reasons should permit meaningful review. The failure to provide reasons and/or reasons that allow for appellate review can result in a new trial.
Was the verdict unreasonable?
A verdict is unreasonable when it is not supported by the facts. A verdict is likewise unreasonable where the judge draws an inference or makes a finding of fact essential to the verdict that is demonstrably incompatible with otherwise uncontested evidence. Unreasonable verdicts are rare, but they do happen. In R. v. Phillips, 2020 ONCA 323, for example, the Court of Appeal for Ontario found that the appellant’s convictions of break and enter and theft to be unreasonable as there was no evidence that connected him to the break-ins or thefts. The convictions were overturned and substituted with acquittals.
Was improper evidence introduced at trial?
In all cases, a Crown produces evidence to support its theory of an accused’s guilt. Evidentiary issues are therefore at the heart of every criminal case. Some evidence is presumptively inadmissible, like an accused’s statement, an accused’s prior bad behaviour, hearsay, or evidence of a complainant’s sexual history. These evidentiary rules are in place to maintain fairness in all proceedings. If improper evidence gets in, the prejudice to an accused could be overwhelming such that it breaches their fair trial rights. The admission of improper evidence is an issue of grave concern for appellate courts.