R. v. J.-L.J. (2000), 261 N.R. 111 (SCC)

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Temp. Cite: [2000] N.R. TBEd. NO.019

Her Majesty The Queen (appellant) v. J.-L.J. (respondent)

(26830; 2000 SCC 51)

Indexed As: R. v. J.-L.J.

Supreme Court of Canada

L’Heureux-Dubé, McLachlin, Iacobucci, Major, Bastarache, Binnie and Arbour, JJ.

November 9, 2000.


The accused was charged with sexual of­fences against two young boys. An expert witness opined that the offences were com­mitted by a person possessing a highly dis­tinct personality disorder and he tendered expert psychiatric evidence to show that the accused’s personality was incompatible with any predisposition to commit such offences. Following a voir dire, the trial judge ex­cluded the evidence and convicted the ac­cused. The accused appealed.

The Quebec Court of Appeal, Robert, J.A., dissenting, in a judgment reported 130 C.C.C.(3d) 541, allowed the appeal and or­dered a new trial on the ground that the ex­pert evidence should have been admitted. The Crown appealed.

The Supreme Court of Canada allowed the appeal and restored the conviction. The trial judge was correct to exclude the evidence.

Criminal Law – Topic 686

Sexual offences – Evidence – General – [See
Criminal Law – Topic 5204.3

Criminal Law – Topic 5204.3

Evidence and witnesses – General – Admis­sibility – Evidence of disposition or pro­pensity of accused – The accused was charged with sexual offences (including sodomy) against two young boys – An expert opined that sodomy of young children was committed by persons having a highly distinct personality disorder and that his testing of the accused (including a penile plethysmograph) convinced him that the accused lacked the personality to be predisposed to commit such an offence – The Supreme Court of Canada affirmed the trial judge’s exclusion of the expert evi­dence – There was no standard profile of persons who sodomized young boys – Accordingly, the expert’s opinion that the accused’s personality was incompatible with characteristics that were “frequently” or “normally” present in such offenders did not exclude the accused from the group of persons who could commit such an offence – Although the accused “passed” the penile plethysmograph (no sexual deviance), this test was not shown to be sufficiently re­liable to identify or exclude any person from being a perpetrator of such offences.

Criminal Law – Topic 5449

Evidence and witnesses – Testimony re­specting the accused – Character of accused -General – [See
Criminal Law – Topic 5204.3

Evidence – Topic 7010.1

Opinion evidence – Expert evidence – Gen­eral – Evidence of new medical or scien­tific doctrines – The Supreme Court of Canada held that an expert failed to estab­lish the reliability of a “penile plethysmo­graph” as a forensic tool to identify or ex­clude persons from being a member of a distinct group of persons with a propensity to sodomize young boys – As to the accep­tance of expert evidence in an area of novel science, the court stated that “a case-by-case evaluation of novel science is necessary in light of the changing nature of our scientific knowledge” – See para­graph 34.

Evidence – Topic 7053

Opinion evidence – Expert evidence – Par­ticular matters – Psychiatric or psycho­logical evidence – [See
Criminal Law – Topic 5204.3

Evidence – Topic 7154

Opinion evidence – Prohibited opinions – Re basic or ultimate issue to be decided – The Supreme Court of Canada stated that the purpose of expert evidence was to as­sist the trier of fact by providing special knowledge that the ordinary person would not know – The expert was not a substitute for the trier of fact – Special scrutiny was required when the expert’s evidence came close to being an opinion on the ultimate issue to be decided – See paragraphs 37, 56.

Cases Noticed:

R. v. Mohan, [1994] 2 S.C.R. 9; 166 N.R. 245; 71 O.A.C. 241, appld. [para. 16].

R. v. Garfinkle (1992), 15 C.R.(4th) 254 (Que. C.A.), refd to. [para. 21].

R. v. Béland and Phillips, [1987] 2 S.C.R. 398; 79 N.R. 263; 9 Q.A.C. 293, refd to. [para. 26].

R. v. McIntosh (O.) and McCarthy (P.) (1997), 102 O.A.C. 210; 117 C.C.C.(3d) 385 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 26].

R. v. Seaboyer and Gayme, [1991] 2 S.C.R. 577; 128 N.R. 81; 48 O.A.C. 81, refd to. [para. 29].

Kelliher (Village) v. Smith, [1931] S.C.R. 672, refd to. [para. 30].

R. v. Abbey, [1982] 2 S.C.R. 24; 43 N.R. 50, refd to. [para. 30].

R. v. Lavallee, [1990] 1 S.C.R. 852; 108 N.R. 321; 67 Man.R.(2d) 1, refd to. [para. 30].

R. v. McMillan (1975), 23 C.C.C.(2d) 160 (Ont. C.A.), affd. [1977] 2 S.C.R. 824; 15 N.R. 20, refd to. [para. 31].

R. v. Lupien, [1970] S.C.R. 263, refd to. [para. 31].

R. v. Robertson (1975), 21 C.C.C.(2d) 385 (Ont. C.A.), refd to. [para. 31].

Frye v. United States (1923), 293 F. 1013 (D.C. Cir.), refd to. [para. 33].

Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals Inc. (1993), 509 U.S. 579 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 33].

Protection de la jeunesse – 539, [1992] R.J.Q. 1144, refd to. [para. 35].

R. v. Blondin, [1996] Q.J. No. 3605 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 35].

People v. John W. (1986), 185 Cal. App.3d 801 (Cal. C.A.), refd to. [para. 35].

Gentry v. State (1994), 443 S.E.2d 667 (Ga. App.), refd to. [para. 35].

United States v. Powers (1995), 59 F.3d 1460 (4th Cir.), refd to. [para. 35].

State v. Spencer (1995), 459 S.E.2d 812 (N.C. App.), refd to. [para. 35].

R. v. Pascoe (D.P.) (1996), 96 O.A.C. 337; 5 C.R.(5th) 341 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 37].

R. v. B.L., [1988] O.J. No. 2522 (Gen. Div.), refd to. [para. 38].

R. v. J.R.G. (1998), 17 C.R.(5th) 399 (Ont. Prov. Div.), refd to. [para. 38].

R. v. Taillefer (1995), 100 C.C.C.(3d) 1 (Que. C.A.), refd to. [para. 40].

R. v. S.C.B. (1997), 104 O.A.C. 81; 119 C.C.C.(3d) 530 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 40].

R. v. K.B. (1999), 176 N.S.R.(2d) 283; 538 A.P.R. 283 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 41].

R. v. Malboeuf (P.), [1997] O.A.C. Uned. 208 (C.A.), leave to appeal denied [1998] 3 S.C.R. vii; 236 N.R. 81, refd to. [para. 42].

R. v. Perlett (J.) (1999), 96 O.T.C. 122 (Gen. Div.), refd to. [para. 43].

R. v. J.T.S. (1996), 47 C.R.(4th) 240 (Alta. C.A.), refd to. [para. 49].

R. v. Dowd (J.T.) (1997), 193 N.B.R.(2d) 247; 493 A.P.R. 247; 120 C.C.C.(3d) 360 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 49].

Davie v. Magistrates of Edinburgh, [1953] S.C. 34, refd to. [para. 56].

R. v. Marquard, [1993] 4 S.C.R. 223; 159 N.R. 81; 66 O.A.C. 161, refd to. [para. 60].

Authors and Works Noticed:

Barker, James G., and Howell, Robert J., The Plethysmograph: A Review of Recent Literature (1992), 20 Bull. Am. Acad. of Psychiatry & L. 13, generally [para. 35].

Delisle, R.J., The Admissibility of Expert Evidence: A New Caution Based on General Principles (1994), 29 C.R.(4th) 267, generally [para. 47].

Mewett, Alan W., Character as a Fact in Issue in Criminal Cases (1984-85), 27 Crim. L.Q. 29, pp. 35, 36 [para. 38].

Morin, L., and Boisclair, C., La preuve d’abus sexuel: allégations, déclarations et l’évaluation d’expert (1992), 23 R.D.U.S. 27, generally [para. 35].

Myers, John E.B., et al., Expert Testimony in Child Sexual Abuse Litigation (1989), 68 Neb. L. Rev. 1, pp. 134 to 135 [para. 35].

Paciocco, David M., and Stuesser, Lee, The Law of Evidence (1996), p. 19 [para. 47].


Carole Lebeuf and Stella Gabbino, for the appellant;

Pauline Bouchard and Sharon Sandiford, for the respondent.

Solicitors of Record:

Attorney General’s Prosecutor, Montreal, Quebec, for the appellant;

Silver, Morena, Montreal, Quebec, for the respondent.

This appeal was heard on December 10, 1999, before L’Heureux-Dubé, McLachlin, Iacobucci, Major, Bastarache, Binnie and Arbour, JJ., of the Supreme Court of Canada.

On November 9, 2000, Binnie, J., delivered the following judgment in both official languages for the Supreme Court of Canada.


R. v. J.-L.J.

(2000), 261 N.R. 111 (SCC)

Supreme Court of Canada
Reading Time:
29 minutes
Bastarache, Binnie, Iacobucci, Major, McLachlin, Arbour, Bastarache, Binnie, Iacobucci, L’Heureux-Dubé, McLachlin, Iacobucci, Major, Bastarache, Binnie and Arbour, JJ., Major, McLachlin 

Binnie, J.
: In this appeal we are required to consider aspects of the “gatekeeper function” performed by trial judges in the reception of novel scientific evidence. The respondent was charged with a series of sexual assaults over a period of four months on two young males with whom he stood in a parental relationship. At the time of the offences, which involved the allegation of anal penetration, the young males were between three and five years old. The defence contended that such offences were committed by someone possessed of a highly distinct personality disorder, and tendered an expert psychiatrist, Dr. Edouard Beltrami, to testify that the respondent’s personality was incompatible with any predisposition to commit such offences. The evidence was excluded by the trial judge, who convicted the respondent. A new trial was ordered by a majority of the Quebec Court of Appeal on the basis that this evidence was wrongly excluded. We are of the opinion that in the circumstances the trial judge was entitled to exclude the expert evidence and that the appeal must be allowed and the conviction restored.

I. The Facts

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