Court Site Study of Adult Unrepresented Accused in the Provincial Criminal Courts (Part 2: Site Reports)

Chapter 7: St. John's, Newfoundland (continued)

7.4 Other types of representation

7.4.1 Prevalence of other types of representation

Figure St.J-5 displays the type of representation provided at various stages of the court process.  As before, note that different data sources are used to estimate percentages for different stages of the court process.

Figure St.J-5. Case/Appearances and Disposed Cases: by Type of Representation by Stage in Court Process, St. John's

Appearance Represented by Number of cases
Self- Represented Duty Counsel Other Legal Aid Private Lawyer
First Appearances* 14% 74% 0% 12% 112
Interim Appearances (in 9:30 to 10:00 a.m. dockets only)* 19% 4% 43% 34% 79

No Final Disposition (first and interim appearances dockets only)*
Appearance Represented by Number of cases
Self- Represented Duty Counsel Other Legal Aid Private Lawyer
No bail, no plea, no election 21% 19% 32% 29% 63
Bail considered – no plea no election 4% 89% 2% 6% 53
Plea and/or election – no bail 17% 34% 20% 29% 41
Bail and Plea *** *** *** *** 6

Final Disposition (first and interim appearances dockets only)*
Appearance Represented by Number of cases
Self- Represented Duty Counsel Other Legal Aid Private Lawyer
At least one guilty or s. 810 32% 36% 8% 24% 25
Other Final Disposition *** *** *** *** 3
All Stages 16% 45% 18% 21%
Last Appearances** 35% 30% 34% 477
  • *    Source: Court Observation sample.
  • ** Source: Disposed Cases sample (note: the manual court records do not distinguish between duty counsel and Legal Aid staff lawyers.
  • *** Numbers of cases too low to provide reliable estimates.

The Figure first shows:

  • The key role played by duty counsel in the first appearances courts, where duty counsel represented the accused in roughly three out of every four cases.
  • Especially striking was the strong role played by duty counsel at bail appearances – with duty counsel representing cases at roughly nine out of every 10 appearances at which bail was considered.
  • Duty counsel also represented the accused in about a third of all appearances at which a plea was taken in these courts.
  • Duty counsel also represented nearly half (45 percent) of all accused who received a final disposition.[65]
  • There was a strong presence of other Legal Aid staff lawyers and other privately retained lawyers (43 percent and 34 percent, respectively) after first appearance.
  • It was rare to see a case represented by a private lawyer in first appearance court (12 percent).
  • For all cases at final appearance, accused were split roughly evenly between those who represented themselves (35 percent), those represented by duty counsel or legal aid (30 percent), and those represented by other privately retained lawyers (34 percent).

7.4.2 Variation of representation by prior record of the accused

Figure St.J-6 shows the distribution of representation type according to the accused's prior record – including prior convictions (the total number of counts for which a conviction was received) and prior jail terms (for each count convicted).  As one would expect, there were more unrepresented accused among those with no prior convictions and one prior conviction, since these persons would be less likely to be facing a jail term if convicted on the current charge.  However, approximately the same proportion of unrepresented accused could be found among those with 2-5, 6-10, and over 10 prior convictions.  Representation by legal aid almost doubled among those accused with two or more prior convictions, as compared to those with one or none.  Retention of private counsel was most common among those with one prior conviction, and more common than self-representation for those with between two and 10 prior convictions.  Roughly the same pattern can be observed across variances in prior jail terms.

Figure St.J-6. Distribution of Disposed Cases By Representation Type at Final Appearance by Prior Record, St. John's*

Number of Prior Convictions
Prior Record Proportion of Cases represented by Number of Cases
Self Legal Aid Private Counsel
None 41 25 34 280 (100%)
One 36 23 41 44 (100%)
2-10 25 40 35 91 (100%)
Over 10 26 49 26 39 (101%)

Number of Prior Jail Terms
Prior Record Proportion of Cases represented by Number of Cases
Self Legal Aid Private Counsel
None 41 25 34 357 (100%)
One 13 44 44 16 (100%)
2-10 23 42 35 52 (100%)
Over 10 24 52 24 33 (100%)

Notes
*  Excludes cases for which representation at final appearance was unspecified in the file.
Source:  Disposed Cases file.


[65] As noted earlier, we do not regard the Disposed Cases data as a preferred source of representation information at first appearance.  Nonetheless, for completeness we note the database indicated that: at first appearance, 62 percent of accused were self- represented; 21 percent were represented by legal aid/duty counsel; and 16 percent were represented by private counsel.   Further investigation would be required to determine the precise reason for this data source providing estimates so different from our other sources.

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