Appeals to the higher courts The Rowbotham Application: The Charles Leblanc Case


By André Faust

Contrary to opinions of some of the automatons , Appeals are good for the public, because, Appeals clarify, points of the law which gives guidance to those who either enforce the law or have to apply the law to the facts.

When the appeal court hears a case, the case has to have merit to it; otherwise the appeal is not heard.  Frivolous cases do not make it to the bench.  If Charles appeal would have been seen as not having any serious purpose or value, the judges would have denied the application or would have cited the case as frivolous and terminated the proceeding.  Instead the three justices found that there was substance to the case and rendered a reserved decision. Which means that they have to study the case before them, how they decide will depend on whether or not they can find applicable laws to support Charles arguments, while one can make an educated guess on how the judges will decide, no one can predict with accuracy what the outcome will be?

For Clarification, at no time, did any, of the Court of Appeal of New Brunswick, judges say that If Charles Leblanc would have made the Rowbotham application it would have been most likely denied,  Judges tend not to speculate, the key words here are Most likely” which implies speculation.  What the Judges said was that the defendant does not need to know Rowbotham to make an application to have the courts appoint a lawyer.  Rowbotham application is used in criminal proceedings here a defendant either has exhausted their finances or have no resources to pay for a lawyer, but as the judge said, the defendant does not have to know of it, all that the defendant has to do is asked the courts to appoint a lawyer, once the request is made then the Judge considers the request and decides whether or not the application is applicable to the defendants situation.  In Charles case there was no request made.  When I believe it was Justice Bell that asked Charles if he made the request, Charles response was “I didn’t know that I could that, I was just told that legal aid said I don’t qualify”.   What the judges have to decide on this point is necessary to inform the defendant that if they can’t afford a lawyer and legal aid will not provide a lawyer, the court has the power to appoint a lawyer to them.

Example of Rowbotham application in British Columbia


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