In the recent case of R v Chevers, 2011 ONCA 570 the Ontario Court of Appeal, for the second time this year, has unequivocally rejected the notion that trial judge's must articulate the law upon which they rely in rendering their judgements.
Christopher Chevers was convicted by Scott J, sitting without a jury, of attempted murder and two other firearm offences. The central issue at trial was identity and that issue relied almost entirely on the victim; the victim's credibility was hotly contested by the defence who pointed out many of lies told by the victim under oath.
Chevers was convicted and appealed.
On appeal Chevers argued that the "trial judge was mandated to give himself a Vetrovec warning of the danger of acting on the victim's evidence without other evidence of confirmation" [para 2]. In rejecting this argument a unanimous Court of Appeal explained that a Vetrovec warning "is intended to alert juries to the dangers of relying on the evidence of certain witnesses" [para 4]; [emphasis added]. The court continued:
Judges know the risks in relying on the testimony of witnesses like this victim; thus there is no requirement that a judge sitting alone recite a Vetrovec caution in his or her reasons for judgment [para 4]; [references omitted].
Earlier this year in R v Snyder, 2011 ONCA 445 the Court of Appeal rejected the same argument holding that to require that "judges articulate those dangers in their reasons...would be pure formalism" [para 24].