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Judge declares mistrial in robbery case

A judge has declared a mistrial for two men charged in a Hamilton robbery and shooting case after Toronto criminal lawyer Jordana Goldlist argued that some of a police officer’s testimony was prejudicial.

Justice Dale Parayeski of the Superior Court of Justice says in his ruling that he “reluctantly” declared that a mistrial occurred because the Crown witness’s utterance, though inadvertent, “ought not to have been in the presence of the jury.”

Goldlist represented her client in the matter that was before the Hamilton court. He was one of two charged following a robbery on March 7, 2012. The charges include robbery with a firearm, aggravated assault, discharge firearm and unlawful confinement.

At trial, Goldlist moved for a mistrial on the basis that the officer's utterance was so prejudicial that instruction to the jury couldn't overcome it.

In his ruling, the judge says the Crown “ably” argued that proper instruction could overcome the problem because that instruction would have to do with a peripheral matter.

However, the judge says he wasn't convinced that the issue was “merely” a peripheral matter.

“I do not believe that even careful clarification from the witness stand, combined with instruction from me, can reverse this,” he says in his ruling. “I am only too aware of the cost to all, including the court itself, of the declaration of a mistrial. That cost does not outweigh a fair trial. That is paramount.”

In an interview with AdvocateDaily.com, Goldlist says the circumstance that led to the judge dismissing the jury and calling a mistrial is unusual.

She tells the online legal news service that it’s an unfortunate situation, but she’s pleased that the judge declared a mistrial under the circumstances.

“We were all ready to go and it’s unfortunate that it’s delayed, but I would much rather my client have a fair trial than have prejudicial information put to the jury," she says.

Goldlist expects that the new trial won’t be scheduled until 2015.

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