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SCC Decision: January 22, 2009

R. v. Smith, 2009 SCC 5
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(Criminal / Jury charge)
The accused was convicted of first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.  The Crown's case depended on two alleged accomplices who had been granted immunity and witness protection in exchange for their testimony.  The trial judge warned the jury to be cautious in accepting their testimony and unsafe to rely on that evidence alone, but told the jury it could rely on the testimony if it was convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that it was true.  The Court upheld the convictions, holding that a so-called Vetrovec warning must clearly warn the jury of the danger of relying on unsavoury witness testimony without additional evidence.  The warning must also identify what type of additional evidence can be used to support unsavoury witness testimony.
Majority/Concurring: 6/1

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