On Wednesday I attended court at 1530 Markham Road, courtroom E2, in order to fight my speeding ticket. My original plan was to plead not guilty, and to watch all the people who went before me, the process, the Prosecutor and the Justice Of The Peace so I could strategize and form the best plan for my defence at trial. I had done some research online and sort of knew I wanted to defend myself, but I wanted to see how the Justice Of The Peace and Prosecutor did things to before I made up my mind on a defence and was comfortable going to trial.
Not long after court started, my phone vibrated and I took a quick look. It wasn't even out of my pocket for 5 seconds. But the secretery (the one sitting in front of the Justice Of The Peace) yelled at me and asked me to leave the courtroom and go outside because I had my phone out. I said I was sorry and it had only been out for a second but she said she had already given 2 warnings about all cell phones and electronic devices being turned off and put away. I apologised to the Justice Of The Peace but the secretery told to leave again until I was called back in, and the Justice Of The Peace asked me to please follow directions. So I sat outside the courtroom. Later I was called back in but I had no idea what to expect in court since I had spent most of the time outside. The Justice Of The Peace, Prosecutor and secretery was staring at me, I said I was under pressure, the Justice Of The Peace asked me a bunch of questions and I felt so nervous and forced so I plead guilty to the lesser speed with no points, even though I said I was feeling pressured into it.
Now I feel as though I'm not guilty. I only plead guilty because I felt pressure because of all the questions and staring I had no idea what to do for a defence since I had been kicked out of court. The secretery had no authority to kick me out, and the JP should have stopped her. I want to appeal my case but I need to know if my reasons: 1) Feeling pressured and forced into pleading guilty 2) Being kicked out of a public courtroom on my trial date and not being allowed to watch court before my trial, are good grounds for an appeal. Thank-you in advance for all your help everyone!
Cell phones are required to be turned off (not just put on silent) in all Courts. The Secretary certainly was within her right to ask you to leave.
I think it would be very difficult to show you were pressured into entering your plea. The Justice of the Peace likely asked you several questions regarding if you understood your options and what entering a plea meant, which would all be on record.
Ignoring court room etiquette, even after several warnings, and subsequently getting kicked out of the court is not grounds for appeal. She had every right to have you removed from the court. Next time, have some respect for the court and the court process.
No, I do not work for Toronto Police...
... it is just a name folks
If you were to appeal, the first issue is that arguing that the "secretary" (actually she's the Clerk) had no right to remove you is incorrect. If you try to appeal, they will obtain the transcripts which will show you were ordered out for not shutting your phone off. "I looked at it for 5 seconds" is not shutting your phone off.
Unless the Prosecutor, the Clerk or the JP were guilty of misconduct (doesn't sound like it from your description), your appeal will go nowhere. You had the option of asking for an adjournment when you felt "pressured." It probably wouldn't have been considered, but you still had it. You always have to show up prepared for trial. Instead, you pled guilty. They won't strike out the conviction for any reason you had.
BTW, if the JP had really been a stickler, he could've found you in contempt of court.
http://www.OntarioTicket.com OR http://www.OHTA.ca
Did you say anything to the JP about feeling pressured or being unsure? The only reason I ask is because I was in a similar situation last year, I felt pressured about pleading guilty in court and said as much and the JP still took my plea, and after talking to a paralegal I appealed the case and was successful on the grounds that I said I was under pressure and the court still took me plea. When I read your post I just had to respond because it sounds like the same thing that happened to me, and I was successful when I appealed. So if you said something about feeling pressured and they took your plea anyway, you do have a chance at appeal court
Thank-you everyone for the replies
Ricker, when I was I called back into the court and my name was called I did say I felt I was under pressure. The Justice Of The Peace then asked me if I understood the consequences of the plea and I said yes, and when the charge was read to me and I was asked whether I was pleading guilty or not guilty to the lesser charge I said something along the lines of "under the pressure I will plead guilty" or "reluctantly I plead guilty" The Justice Of The Peace found me guilty and gave me a fine $45. So at least once and maybe twice I did say I was under pressure, possibly once instead of pressure I said I was reluctant. Will my appeal be successful because I said it and they still took my plea?
In regards to me being thrown out of court for using my phone, when I said that the secretery, or clerk I guess, had no authority to do it, I just meant that I thought it was The Justice Of The Peace rules the courtroom and their word is law. In my case The Justice Of The Peace said nothing about my phone and herself did not ask me to leave. She only asked me to follow the clerk's directions. I was just startled by it because right in the middle of court going on the clerk stood up and pointed at me and was like "Sir in the middle row, I have already said that all cell phones must be off and put away. Please step outside the courtroom now" I did not think it was up to her to make this decision, it was my first time ever in court and I though she was just the secretery for The Justice Of The Peace. That's all, I did not beleive The Justice Of The Peace had to listen to her.
Again thanks everyone for taking the time to reply. It has certainley cleared some things up for me.
Just a little update for anyone whom is interested: I had a consultation with a paralegal today (the office was close to my work so although not in Toronto like where I got my ticket it still was helpful). He told me based on what I said while entering my plea I have a chance at winning the appeal if I presented my case correctly and that The Justice Of The Peace should not accepted my plea if I said I was under pressure. So I have applied for one and also ordered the transcripts. He did say it was a little bit surprising the clerk centered me out in front of everyone, apparently this is normally done with more discretion, at least outside of Toronto. That being said, my focus now is on my winning my appeal and following the direction I was pointed in by the paralegal.
The only question I have left is how would I go about subpoenaing the clerk to court on my appeal date? Or is this not necessary because the transcripts will show everything? (how I said I was under pressure)
(also thank-you to the couple of people whom emailed me with advice. You're insights and reccomedation for which paralegal to consult really helped me)
The appeal will be based solely on the transcripts. No need to subpoena anyone.
J Megalo wrote: The only question I have left is how would I go about subpoenaing the clerk to court on my appeal date? Or is this not necessary because the transcripts will show everything? (how I said I was under pressure)
You are able to subpoena anyone you want to court if you think it will help your case. However just because you can doesn't mean you should. It all depends whether you think it will help or hinder your case. For most people in appeal court the transcripts are more than enough.
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