R. v. J.M.

Charges:

(1) Fraud Over $5,000.00;
(2) Uttering Forged Document

The client, J.M., was charged with one count of fraud over $5,000.00 and one count of uttering a forged document after depositing a forged cheque in the amount of $195,000.00 into his business account and then withdrawing a total of $190,000.00 in cash.

The client owned and operated an auto collision centre. He was approached by two men who claimed to be employees of a major book retailer. They convinced him that their company wanted to diversify and enter the business of refurbishing damaged cars for resale. The agreement between the client and the two men was that the book retailer would provide the funding for the client to purchase the damaged cars. The client would locate and purchase the damaged cars and then complete the refurbishing of the cars following which they would be sold, presumably by a subsidiary company of the book retailer.

The client was provided with a cheque in the amount of $195,000.00 which he deposited into his business account. Once the cheque was cleared by the client's bank, the two men changed the agreement. The two men advised the client that they had decided to locate and purchase the damaged cars themselves. The two men instructed the client from time to time to make large cash withdrawals. The client complied and provided the cash to the two men. The client was able to withdraw $190,000.00 before it was discovered by the bank that the cheque had been forged. The bank contacted the police and the client was charged with fraud and uttering a forged document.

I anticipated that the client's story would be difficult for anyone to believe, especially a trial Judge. Accordingly, I advised the client that his case was a perfect case to bring to trial before a jury. I also advised the client that only a stupid and unsophisticated man would have been dumb enough to have believed the two fraudsters. I obtained the client's instructions to proceed to trial before a jury and allege that he did not have the capacity to understand that he was being used for the purpose of perpetrating a fraud. In order to advance this defence, I called the client as a witness. The Crown failed in attempting to make the client appear more sophisticated than I alleged to the jury. The jury acted very quickly in finding the client not guilty.

Marsha Clark, the prosecutor of O.J. Simpson, calls this type of defence strategy "giving the jury a reason to doubt", as opposed to establishing a reasonable doubt. I call it shaping the defence strategy around the particular aspects of the case or, as in this case, the particular aspects of the client. The client was extremely happy upon hearing that he was found not guilty.