Not generally. While double jeopardy considerations does not apply in Canada until the final verdict (i.e. all appeal processes have been exhausted by decision or failure to appeal within the time limit), the right to a jury trial for serious offences, both under the Constitution Act, 1982 (or the Charter, its bill of rights Part) and the Criminal Code (section 471, which not only makes the jury trial a right, but also the compulsory mode of trial unless both prosecutor and the accused consent), exist.
Under common law principles, the jury's verdict, in the fact-finding role exclusive to the jury, is almost sacrosanct. Even if in Canada an appeal court can set aside a jury's verdict of acquittal or conviction, they may only do so if there is a reviewable legal error (for appeals from the Crown and the accused), or if the verdict of conviction is plainly unreasonable and cannot be supported by evidence (or otherwise may constitute a miscarriage of justice).
In the first case, the reasoning is that the jury's verdict was defective due to e.g. insufficient or wrongful instructions, seeing evidences that should not have been admitted or failure to see evidences that should have been admitted.
In the second case, the appeal court acts as a safeguard, much like in the U.S., for the accused to prevent wrongful convictions however it may occur. Even then, the appeal court cannot in essence conduct a new trial from the appeal records and substitute its own factual findings for those made by a jury, unless it finds
that no properly instructed jury can reasonably convict the accused based on the evidences presented (R. v. W.H.).
Now going back to what the trial judge can do after a jury's verdict. The proper course of action in case where the Crown's case cannot support a conviction is for the accused to seek a directed verdict before presenting any evidence. If the judge grants the motion, the judge (not the jury) enters a verdict of acquittal, which can be appealed for errors of law.
Otherwise, the trial judge has no capacity to usurp the fact finding role of the jury. The judge can, however, in exceptional circumstances, declare a mistrial or stay of the proceedings (i.e. the proceeding is concluded without a verdict, due to e.g. abuse of process by the state or other considerations to preserve the integrity of the justice system) following the jury's verdict.
All most all cases on this issue followed a verdict of conviction.
In one unusual case (R. v. Burke), a verdict of "acquittal" was involved. The verdict is in quotes because in this case, the court recorded a verdict of acquittal apparently contrary to the jury's intention, as the jury foreman had coughed before pronouncing "guilty as charged" and the judge (along with the court reporter, the prosecutor and the defence lawyer) misheard "not guilty as charged". After seeing the accused in the parking lot, some jury members were confused and returned to the court and reported the error. However, not all jury members could be immediately contacted and the jury had only reconvened in the court with the accused a couple days after the original verdict, and after some newspapers had reported on the situation. The trial judge decided to enter the intended verdict of "guilty". The accused appealed and the Supreme Court decided in this particular case that:
- the trial judge can nonetheless exercise a limited jurisdiction after the jury's discharge;
- the judge could enter the intended verdict if it did not give rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias;
- in this case, due to the media reports and relatively long delay between the original verdict and the reconvening of the jury, which may have improperly influenced the jury, a mistrial should have been the appropriate remedy instead of entering the intended verdict.
On the appropriateness of a mistrial, the Supreme Court said
In declaring a mistrial, the trial judge therefore turns his or her mind to the question of whether a mistrial is needed to prevent a miscarriage of justice. This determination will necessarily involve an examination of the surrounding circumstances. Injustice to the accused is of particular concern, given that the state with all its resources acts as the singular antagonist of the individual accused in a criminal case. This factor should be balanced against other relevant factors, such as the seriousness of the offence, protection of the public and bringing the guilty to justice. It may be fitting to allow the announced verdict to stand where the period the accused has been at liberty and under the mistaken impression that he or she had been acquitted has been lengthy, and where the charge is not so egregious as to bring the administration of justice into disrepute. As has already been stated, the trial judge is in the best position to assess the circumstances of each individual case and select the most appropriate remedy.
This case does not directly apply to a case where the jury intended an acquittal, but the considerations may still be applied in extremely limited circumstances. While no one but the jury is privy to their deliberation process and no judge can overturn a jury's acquittal because they think the jury's verdict is unreasonable, it could be imagined that, for example, if a jury reports an acquittal and a member of jury before being discharged makes a claim of jury intimidation or the Crown presents clear evidence of jury manipulation, the trial judge might still have the authority to declare a mistrial. But this has not been clarified in jurisprudence.