You Know, Some Appeals Really Aren’t “Worth a Shot”

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Understandably, anybody who loses a case (especially a criminal case) is inclined to appeal, even if their arguments are pretty weak and even though every appeal is, statistically, a long shot. I probably shouldn't point this out, but the fact is that there are some cases where it just isn't worth another dime in fees to pay for an appeal, because it's going nowhere.

This was one of those cases.

Special bonus here: the opinion is yet another (intentionally) comical one out of Canada (this time, from the Alberta Court of Appeal).

First, the facts as summarized in the introduction to the opinion:

At about 2:00 a.m. on December 6, 2009, an Edmonton police officer noticed a Jeep leaving the parking lot of a drinking establishment with its lights out. He decided to follow it. As he did, he observed the vehicle drive through three stop signs without attempting to brake. A licence check revealed that the licence plate attached to the vehicle was not registered to it. The officer attempted to stop the Jeep by activating the emergency lights of his marked police car. The driver of the Jeep took no notice of it. The police officer then activated his vehicle’s siren intermittently, but again there was no response. Next, the officer pulled his vehicle alongside the Jeep and shone what was described as an “alley light” into the driver’s compartment of the Jeep. That caught the driver’s attention. The Jeep was brought to a stop.

Next, the trial court's summary of its decision:

Having considered all of the evidence, particularly the driving pattern, most particularly the driving pattern, most particularly the time of night and no headlights and no running lights, passage through not one, not two, but three stop signs, not only without stopping but without slowing, that is, without applying the brakes, whatever, and not responding to [the] lights on top of the police vehicle, not responding to an intermittent siren from approximately a car-length behind, and only responding when the alley light is operative, together with the signs of impairment indicated by the police officer, most significantly to me what he described as a strong odour of liquor on the accused’s breath, I am satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the inferences drawn therefrom establish the accused’s ability to operate a motor vehicle was impaired by alcohol, and I convict the accused accordingly.

Do you appeal? Of course! You argue that under the "rule in Hodge's case" the judge erred "in drawing an adverse inference of impairment when other plausible and rational explanations were clearly available."

Well, here's how that went. These are the last two sentences of the intro paragraph above, which (as a good intro should) tells you all you really need to know:

Immediately, the respondent emerged from the driver’s seat of the Jeep and approached the police car declaring: “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m so fucked.” As will be seen from our disposition of this appeal, that was a prophetic statement.