MOHAMMED ABDALLA v. REGEM
West African Court of Appeal (Blackall, P., Lucie-Smith, C.J. (Sierra Leone) and Lewey, J.A.): March 22nd, 1950 (W.A.C.A. Cr. App. No. 4/50)
- Criminal Procedure—assessors—judge’s summing-up—judge may express strong view on facts provided decision left to assessors: The mere fact that, in considering the evidence in his summing-up, a judge expresses a strong view on the facts is not sufficient to entitle a person to have his conviction set aside; a judge is entitled to express his views on the way the facts should be dealt with provided that he does not take the actual decision out of the hands of the assessors (page 30, lines 11-20).
- Criminal Procedure — assessors — judge’s summing-up — judge must direct assessors’ attention to salient points of case—if case properly
MOHAMMED ABDALLA v. R„ 1950-56 ALR S.L. 28
put, appeal court should not scrutinise summing-up too strictly:
The purpose of a judge’s summing-up to assessors is to direct their attention to the salient points of the case; and although an appeal court must take care that the case was properly put to the assessors so that they understood the points at issue, it would be wrong to scrutinise the summing-up too strictly (page 29, line 38—page 30, 5
- Criminal Procedure—judge’s summing-up—contents—judge may express strong view on facts provided decision left to assessors: See
- Criminal Procedure — judge’s summing-up — contents — judge must 10 direct assessors’ attention to salient points of case—appeal court should
not scrutinise summing-up too strictly: See  above.
- Evidence—functions of court—direction on evidence—judge may express strong view on facts provided decision left to assessors: See
- Evidence—functions of court—direction on evidence—judge must direct assessors’ attention to salient points of case—if case properly put, appeal court should not scrutinise summing-up too strictly: See
The appellant appealed against his conviction by the Supreme Court on the ground that the trial judge misdirected the assessors in his summing-up by failing to put the case for both sides to the assessors, and by expressing strong views on the facts which influenced the assessors’ decision. 25
Cases referred to:
- R. v. Bryant (1917), 13 Cr. App. R. 49, dictum of Lord Reading, CJ. applied.
- R. v. Mason (1924), 18 Cr. App. R. 131, dictum of Lord Hewart, CJ.
R.W. Beoku-Betts for the appellant;
Benka-Coker, Ag. Sol.-Gen., for the Crown.
BLACKALL, P., delivering the judgment of the court:
In this appeal, the learned judge’s summing-up was subjected to a minute scrutiny. But as was said in R. v. Smith (3) (11 Cr. App. R. at 84, per Lord Reading, C.J.) the court does not look too minutely into the summing-up of a judge. The summing-up is to direct the 40 attention of the jury or assessors to the salient points, and it would
be wrong and lead to pedantry and technicality in those circumstances if we scrutinised it too strictly. On the other hand the court must take care that the case was properly put to the assessors so that they understood the points at issue. In our opinion, the case for both sides was put perfectly fairly by the trial judge.
Objection was also taken that the learned judge expressed his own views on some aspects of the case and that they influenced the assessors. Here again, I will quote from a couple of reported cases of which learned counsel did not seem to be aware. In R. v. Bryant (1), Lord Reading, C.J. said (13 Cr. App. R. at 51):
. . [T]his Court has often said that the mere fact that a judge expresses a strong view on the facts is not sufficient to entitle a prisoner to have his conviction quashed. A judge is entitled to express his views, so long as he does not take the decision out of the hands of the jury.”
Again in the case of R. v. Mason (2) Lord Hewart, C.J. said (18 Cr. App. R. at 132):
“. . . [I]t is proper for a judge, in dealing with the evidence, to express, sometimes strongly, the view that the facts ought to be dealt with in a particular way . . . .”
In the present case, we can see nothing in which the learned trial judge contravened the principles laid down in those cases. There is no merit in the appeal, and the appeal is dismissed.