Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Defence scores big win in BC Legislature Raid case disclosure application

By Bill Tieleman

Defence lawyers for David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi scored a major win in BC Supreme Court today when Justice Elizabeth Bennett ruled in their favour, ordering significantly increased disclosure of evidence.

Justice Bennett’s oral ruling was a blow to the Crown but also to the RCMP, whose conduct was found to be lacking.

The ruling means defence lawyers Michael Bolton, Kevin McCullough and Patrick Boyle will gain access to the “project room” where over 100,000 pages of evidence are stored in the aptly named “Project Every Which Way” investigation.

Justice Bennett ordered that the defence be allowed into the project room, where they will be able to ensure that all evidence relevant to the defence of their clients have been disclosed.

But the defence will not be allowed to review evidence unrelated to the breach of trust case charges, including evidence obtained by police in the original drug charges investigation that accidentally uncovered the allegations of influence peddling in the $1 billion BC Rail privatization deal.

“The law is clear…” Bennett told the Court, that disclosure of evidence is critical to the defence of the accused.

“I do not accept RCMP objections to the defence entering the project room,” she said. “Many of the descriptions are vague or have no details at all.”

“The defence are merely seeking to be present for the inventory of evidence,” Bennett continued. “This right is a constitutional one. It is set out in Section 7 [of the Charter of Rights]”

Bennett criticized the failure to adequately disclose electronic evidence, though she noted that “the Crown has worked diligently at disclosure” and specifically said she was not rebuking Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino.

“It may be the first electronic disclosure for these [RCMP] officers, however electronic evidence has been used for at least 10 years, case law shows. I’m not sure why many of these problems haven’t been resolved, for example, the lack of a proper search engine,” Bennett said.

Bennett then went on to laud the defence lawyers.

“The defence have demonstrated they are not on a fishing expedition. It was due to the diligence of the defence that these problems were disclosed,” Bennett said.
Following Justice Bennett’s ruling defence and Crown fired shots back and forth once again.

“My learned friends haven’t produced a stitch of the materials they promised to produce by this time,” said McCullough, who represents Virk. “My friend hasn’t been able to make any of the deadlines he set for himself.”

Berardino rejected McCullough and Bolton’s complaints, saying he was merely two day behind schedule due to problems with preparing information on the proceeds of crime evidence for the defence.

Following a break where the Crown and defence conferred on process, Berardino told Bennett that access to the project room would begin the following Monday or Tuesday.

He gave an estimate of 10 days as an approximate length of time to undertake the inventory but said both sides would report their progress at the next pre-trial hearing, scheduled for 9 a.m. November 24.

Bennett raised the possibility of further delay in the trial, currently scheduled to begin December 4.

“We will address on November 24 if we can proceed on December 4,” Bennett said. “It will be very unfortunate if we lose the dates in December.”

“There is a public interest in having this case heard, for everyone’s sake,” she said.

Outside the court McCullough and Bolton were all smiles with the decision.

“We’re pleased with it. It’s a step by step case,” McCullough said.

Bolton added that: “We expect to begin on December 4 with preliminary applications in respect of the wiretap evidence.”

And he noted that the RCMP project room inventory could be challenging.

“We actually don’t have any concept of what’s there until we get there,” he said.


Anonymous said...

You may find this entertaining.

Erik's website domain was registered by a US company, called Domains by Proxy. Go to domainsbyproxy.com and read the home page.
This guy is a XXXXX, and only XXXXXXXX go to this extent to hide their contact information.

[Editor's note: Comment edited for content]

Anonymous said...

Hi Bill you may want to check out the lsuc website. Go to current hearings and then click onto Bornmann's name. You will have to scroll down to find it but once you do there is more information on the site. Bornmann has filed notice he wants the hearing to be held in camera or alternatively to have a publication ban on the proceedings. The obvious question is this, if he is of such good character why is he trying to keep this from the public. It seems spiderman knows his only chance to get accepted to the bar is to have his hearing before he goes on the stand and is subjected to
cross examination where his past "indiscretions" will be laid bare for all to see. If he gets accepted to the bar and then later testifies even if he is found to be dishonest and not believed by the judge he will still be a lawyer - he can't be disbarred after the fact.

The lsuc has filed a motion asking for the hearing to be delayed until after the bc rail case is over. This will obviously hurt Bornmann since he won't be able to sneak in and become a member of the bar. It seems spiderman may not get his wish.

Anonymous said...

Hi Bill
From some of the stuff I've been reading on a few blogs some of the folks are leaning toward a conspiracy scheme. The lack of understanding of the basics of a legal system is often seen. sure everyone wants this trial to start and end, and right now. Some are convinced the government should fall over the decision. But they must remember court decisions aren't available till the case is finished and a verdict is rendered. To attack somebody who takes the time to sit in the courthouse for hours watching a pretrial hearing makes for a stiff back. some folks like the US TV edition. In out in an hour or less. and the guys we decide are bad get found guilty all the time. I've followed trials on the net since BC started posting them. I can wait till the decision is given. In the meantime I can and do listen to what you guys are saying. The Globe this morning. Voice of BC a couple of weeks ago, and Palmer now and again. what else can you report if nothing is happening that day? Why do we tend to shoot the messenger. But watch out, somebody is about due to tell you you are a right wing sympathizer. Maybe they should give Gordon a call and ask him why so many courthouses were closed and remain closed. Or why the AG is muddying the water on this and other cases? dl