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R. v. Caouette, [2000] 2 S.C.R. 271


Her Majesty The Queen                                                                   Appellant




Marie Suzanne Caouette                                                                  Respondent


Indexed as:  R. v. Caouette


Neutral citation:  2000 SCC 41.


File No.:  27050.


2000:  October 4.


Present:  McLachlin C.J. and L’Heureux-Dubé, Gonthier, Iacobucci, Major, Bastarache, Binnie, Arbour and LeBel JJ.


on appeal from the court of appeal for quebec


                   Criminal law – Evidence – Statements – Admissibility.


                   APPEAL from a judgment of the Quebec Court of Appeal, [1998] Q.J. No. 3498 (QL), J.E. 98-2396, allowing the accused’s appeal from her convictions on charges of first degree murder and conspiracy to murder, and ordering a new trial. Appeal allowed.


                   Jacques Casgrain, for the appellant.


                   Nathalie Caron, for the respondent.


English version of the judgment of the Court delivered orally by


1                 LeBel J. — The Court is unanimously of the opinion that the Quebec Court of Appeal erred in law in refusing to admit the statement of the respondent, Marie Suzanne Caouette, taken down on March 10, 1994 in the police van that was transporting her to the courthouse. Without any serious, specific and determining error being shown, the Court of Appeal reassessed the weighing of the evidence as a whole by the Superior Court judge during a voir dire held to establish whether the statement was free and voluntary.


2                 This statement had been received into evidence by the trial judge, who had refused to admit a statement by the respondent, made on March 9, 1994, during questioning at the police station. Without expressing an opinion on the validity of the decision made with respect to the statement of March 9, the Court not thereby intending to endorse the reasons given by the Superior Court judge in this regard, the error made by the Court of Appeal with respect to the statement of March 10, 1994 in itself justifies setting aside the appeal decision.


3                 Consequently, the Court allows the appellant’s appeal, sets aside the judgment of the Court of Appeal ordering a new trial and restores the guilty verdict handed down on December 3, 1995 by an assizes jury presided over by the Honourable Gaston Desjardins of the Superior Court convicting the respondent, Marie Suzanne Caouette, of first degree murder and conspiracy to murder.

                   Judgment accordingly.


                   Solicitor for the appellant:  The Department of Justice, Sainte-Foy.


                   Solicitor for the respondent:  Nathalie Caron, Beauport.





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