A criminal defence lawyer’s failure to review her client’s video interview with police and recorded statements of witnesses led to a mistrial in a Halifax sexual assault case last week.
The man on trial was charged with sexual assault causing bodily harm, two counts of uttering threats and one of obstructing justice, however last month the Crown dropped the threats charges.
At trial, the Crown attorney raised concerns the defence lawyer had not looked at a video of Halifax Regional Police interviewing the man. The lawyer said on the record that she had in fact not watched the video.
She had also sent out an e-mail to the Crown attorney saying her client had admitted to one element of the offence, a statement her client contradicted when he took the stand.
Another defence lawyer was asked to review the issue and provide an opinion. It was agreed the client could no longer be represented by his lawyer and a mistrial was requested.
In an interview the defence lawyer said the reason she did not watch the videos was because “there’s a specific program to view the DVD and I didn’t know what the program was until Monday and the trial started on Tuesday.” She added, “I had written statements…and I had met with my client I think between 15 and 20 hours. I wasn’t concerned about there being an issue.”
The client will return to Nova Scotia Supreme Court on April 23rd for a new trial with new representation.