The appellant, Aras Ahmed-Kadir, had been convicted of four offences involving unlicensed handgun possession and possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking. After filing his Notice of Appeal, he applied for the equivalent of a Rowbotham order, asking the court to appoint counsel pursuant to Section 684 of the Criminal Code.
Mr. Ahmed-Kadir, who had been sentenced to four years imprisonment with 27 months yet to serve, was indigent and could not afford counsel. The application before the court turned on whether the issues under appeal were sufficiently complex to justify the appointment of government-funded counsel.
Madam Justice Garson of the BC Court of Appeal concluded that counsel would be necessary to articulate the factual and legal arguments involved:
 Mr. Ahmed-Kadir has a grade 10 education, although he is currently completing his grade 11 and 12 courses during his incarceration. He has been refused legal aid but not for financial reasons. As I have already noted, the Crown concedes that several of the grounds raised on appeal are arguable. On my review of the reasons for judgment on the voir dire and the trial, the need for assistance of counsel on this appeal is apparent. Mr. Ahmed-Kadir intends to raise arguments of fact and law concerning potential breaches under ss. 8, 9, and 10 of the Charter. The Crown noted that applying the principles of the Charter to the somewhat complicated set of facts in this case will be a difficult task, particularly in light of the unfolding dynamic of the investigation that occurred in the apartment complex after the police first arrived. In the circumstances of this case, it is my view that it is in the interests of justice to appoint counsel to assist Mr. Ahmed-Kadir to pursue the appeal of his conviction.”
The Court of Appeal’s decision on this application demonstrates that the appointment of government-funded counsel is often a necessary and desirable step for courts to take in circumstances where a self-represented indigent accused wishes to advance Charter arguments.
Decided by the BC Court of Appeal on June 6, 2013.
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