What is the standard for a jury charging a jury in a joint trial where out-of-court statements are tendered?

Saskatchewan, Canada


The following excerpt is from R. v. Bellegarde, 2000 SKCA 7 (CanLII):

In McFall v. The Queen, 1979 CanLII 176 (SCC), [1980] 1 S.C.R. 321, Estey J. prescribed a standard for judges charging a jury in joint trials where out-of-court statements are tendered. He wrote in dissent, but his opinion on this matter was not put into question by the majority. At pp. 338-39 he said: The economies and the efficiencies of joint trials and the advantage of minimizing inconsistent and unsatisfactory verdicts which expose the law and the courts to criticism by the public, attract the trial courts to the undertaking of joint trials in such circumstances. In doing so, the court takes on the added and heavy burden of complete and proper instruction to the jury on the precise limits of the evidence admissible against each of the accused, and hence the limited use to which these statements may be put. This burden is discharged only by the clearest instruction to the jury that only the statement made by the accused himself is admissible against him, and his statement in turn is inadmissible against his co-accused. There is in these circumstances a constant risk because any instruction short of the foregoing will jeopardize and may destroy any chance of a fair and proper trial.

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