Crown counsel are held to a high standard in the criminal justice system; assisting the court in one of its fundamental roles, the search for the truth, the Crown is expected to fulfil a dual role - vigorously prosecuting their case while acting as ministers of justice. In the recent case of R v LeBrocq, 2011 ONCA 405, an apparent reference to this fact during closing submissions to the jury became the subject of an appeal.
During her closing submissions Crown counsel commented on her approach to the cross-examination of the accused, who was charged with several counts of sexual assault: "My duty is to test his evidence. I'm not trying to be mean to him or make him look bad. I have to test the veracity and truth of what he says. I have duties to the court[.]" [emphasis added] [para 27].
The appellant argued that this was an improper comment which had the potential to "impermissibly elevate the Crown in the jury's eyes by suggesting that Crown counsel was impartial and that her submissions were motivated by her duty to the court to test the veracity of the appellant's evidence" [para 27]. The Court of Appeal disagreed:
These comments were not improper in our view. In fact they accurately reflect the duty and obligation of Crown counsel and her position at trial... [emphasis added] [para 28].