Admissible Evidence: Just as important in Traffic Court
Admissible evidence, meaning any proof presented in a court of law, is a way for lawyers to verify the case they’re trying to make. It is just as important in traffic court as it is in criminal or civil court. Admissible evidence is so important that trying to introduce inadmissible evidence can overturn a conviction altogether. That is exactly what happened in the case of Chi Wai Chan, summarized below.
Following a traffic incident, Chi Wai Chan was charged under two BC Motor Vehicle Act sections. After the trial relating to these charges, on March 2, 2021, Mr. Chan was convicted on both counts. He appealed these convictions to the Supreme Court of British Columbia on July 7, 2021, where the matter was heard before The Honourable Mr. Justice Williams.
At the appeal, the Crown conceded that there was insufficient evidence concerning both of the counts, stating that;
“While the appellant in his argument states numerous grounds of appeal, the respondent is content to concede the appeal on the basis of serious legal errors by way of the JJ (Judicial Justice) having allowed in a significant amount of inadmissible evidence, which if not admitted would have inexorably led to insufficient evidence for a conviction on either count.”
Mr. Chan argued that since the use of insufficient evidence resulted in his wrongful conviction, he should be acquitted on both counts. While the Crown did agree to the acquittal of one conviction, they argued that the second one only had a successful appeal because of a legal error and not on account of insufficient evidence.
Justice Williams decided that, had the errors been insignificant, he would’ve accepted the Crown’s argument; however, he stated, “that the irregularities that enabled the admission of the evidence were not minor or technical in nature; these were not close calls. They were quite egregious violations of basic rules of evidence.”
After reviewing the factums submitted and hearing the submissions from the Crown and Mr. Chan’s counsel, Justice Williams found that the inexperienced prosecutor and investigating officer presented inadmissible hearsay evidence, which the presiding Judicial Justice improperly accepted. Therefore, Mr. Chan’s convictions were overturned, and he was acquitted of both charges.
The case of Chi Wai Chan reinforces how important admissible evidence is, regardless of the court it is being used in.