Mark worked in a medical facility with a much younger female co-worker. There was flirting between them. They went out together one evening, meeting up in a park and later driving around in Mark’s car. He said he had a surprise for her at the office so they parked close by. Instead of going inside, they stayed in the car and the co-worker sat in Mark’s lap. She said there was heavy petting and Mark exposed himself. He dropped her off at home soon thereafter. When her parents found out, a charge of sexual assault was brought against Mark He said that whatever happened was consensual. The stakes were high. Mark’s career path could be brought to a halt with a conviction. He hired a well-known criminal law firm to defend him and left the matter in their hands, trusting they would deal with it conscientiously. That turned out not to be the case. Mark was convicted at trial and considered that the law firm had mishandled his defence. We got involved at that point.
Making an allegation of ineffective assistance of counsel should not be undertaken lightly. It was necessary to carefully review the law firm’s file and their dealings with Mark to determine whether there was any substance to the complaint. As it turned out, the lawyer had failed to provide Mark with the Crown disclosure, hadn’t reviewed the evidence with him in any detail before trial and told him he should not testify. It was our view that the conviction was unsafe as a result of the conduct of the defense. There were other grounds of appeal related to the reasons of the trial judge. A detailed factum was prepared for the appeal.
After a lengthy hearing, the Superior Court judge who heard the appeal agreed that Mark had received ineffective assistance of counsel, and the conviction should be set aside on that basis. Since Mark had already served part of the sentence, the charges were permanently stayed.