Monday, June 04, 2007

Stunning 100% win for Basi-Virk defence in disclosure application; Justice Bennett scathing on RCMP, Special Prosector

Justice Bennett criticizes "substantial failure to respect the disclosure rights of the accused"

It's not often one side in a court case gets everything it asked for a legal application but that's exactly what happened today in BC Supreme Court, where Justice Elizabeth Bennett granted every request made by defence lawyers for David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi - the former government aides facing serious charges in the BC Legislature trial.

Justice Bennett - in a 37-page written decision - effectively rips the RCMP and Special Prosecutor for failing to adequately disclose evidence to the defence.

"The defence is entitled to disclosure in a timely fashion. This rather extensive review of the many problems with this case demonstrates that disclosure has not been sufficiently made in a timely way."

Bennett continues: " I regret that I must make the following order in such broad and sweeping terms. However, given the substantial failure to respect the disclosure rights of the accused, this order is the only way I believe I can ensure that no miscarriage of justice will occur."

" In terms of police notes, I make the following order:

Every police officer or civilian who touched or spoke about this investigation, regardless of what branch of the investigation they were involved in and regardless of rank or role undertaken will review every piece of papter he or she has and ensure it is submitted to the Crown forthwith. This includes but is not limited to notes, briefing notes, continuation reports, e-mail and anything marked 'not for disclosure'," Bennett wrote.

Justice Bennett also ordered Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino - missing from the entire disclosure proceedings, including today - to provide written answer to questions from the defence on the immunity agreement with key crown witness Erik Bornmann, the former provincial lobbyist.

That agreement in particular will now see the light of day, after Special Prosecutors said there was no written deal - even though that his Crown policy.

Justice Bennett was unequivocal in her decision, which she read in court:

"There is no question that the defence is entitled to all of the details of any arrangement with Mr. Bornmann. Such arrangement is generally not protected by any privilege," Bennett wrote.

"There have been too many wrongful convictions based on informant information which was obtained in dubious circumstances. I do not make such a link at this time; however, that is the reason that the defence is entitled to full disclosure when dealing with immunity agreements," she said.

Justice Bennett also ordered that the defence have access to review seven file cabinets of information related to the drug charges file that first triggered the BC Legislature raid. While the defence will not be permitted to view the documents themselves, they will be able to know what documents are there and whether the documents have either been disclosed or marked not for disclosure appropriately.

More on this decision later on this blog and in 24 hours newspaper on Tuesday.

Both sides will be back in BC Supreme Court on Thursday June 7 at 10 a.m. to deal with further details and presumably scheduling for the defence's Charter of Rights application, as well as another defence disclosure application.

That application will ask for documents relating to the BC Rail privatization deal and could reach into very politically sensitive files right into the office of BC Premier Gordon Campbell.


Anonymous said...

The judge aid down the lumber today. Her written decision is not yet on the court site but shyouldn't take long to get there. Good thing you were in attendence.
Baldry gave a bit of a summary on the non news. This case might get moving soon. dl

Anonymous said...

That noise you hear is the sound of shredders working overtime, non-stop!!

I was watching reruns of the old "Hogan's Heroes" episodes. One character Sgt. Shultz had a particularly catchy phrase whenever he faced an uncomfortable scenario:

There you have it ladies and gentlemen you have been provided with the "policy advice" that is being typed as we speak in a briefing book for the premier and his adviors entitled;
"Advice from Kevin Debruyckere - Confidential".

Anonymous said...

Mr. Premier, Clark Roberts here. Mr. Premier, I hope you are not going to invoke Cabinet confidentiality to prevent disclosure. This is a criminal matter!

Clark; "I am not following it very closely...the prosecutors are doing their job, I'm sure the defense is doing their job...and I won't have anything at all to say about it until it is complete...That has been my position from the outset".

Mr. Premier, you just can’t ignore the cancer in your Office any longer! You have to take some action now to show you are being open and transparent.

Clark; "I am not following it very closely...the prosecutors are doing their job, I'm sure the defense is doing their job...and I won't have anything at all to say about it until it is complete...That has been my position from the outset".

Mr. Premier, you must change your strategy now! You just can’t hold onto that defense any longer.

Clark; "I am not following it very closely...the prosecutors are doing their job, I'm sure the defense is doing their job...and I won't have anything at all to say about it until it is complete...That has been my position from the outset"

...Sorry Clark got to go...Martyn Brown, Mike Morton and Rich Coleman all want to see me...apparently it’s urgent...

Anonymous said...

Once again deep throat thrusts himself into the contest. Can't continue.I'm choking.

Anonymous said...

As you may recall, on this “blog” on or about May 7th, 2007 I noted that:

“So let me get this straight - even though the lead RCMP investigator thought Gary Collins was under investigation and "another" didn't - he wasn't!?! The question remains: Given that Minister Coleman continues to "freelance" now - why was he "freelancing" then?”

A supplementary question to the above noted question would be: When and what did then Attorney General Geoff Plante know of the then Solicitor General’s behavior?
Perhaps he is reviewing his notes as we speak!

Anonymous said...

Hi bill,
curious that you make no reference, nor does the Vancouver Sun's on line story concerning the recent rulings by Judge Bennett on the following quotes which were contained in today's globe and mail's on line story .
Quoted partial story from globe

"Among the issues being questioned by defence are why police suddenly lost interest in investigating Gary Collins, who at the time was the finance minister and Dave Basi's boss.

No police notes have ever been produced by the Crown to explain why the RCMP investigation, code named Everywhichway, dropped Mr. Collins.

“It is clear that minister Collins was under police suspicion in December, 2003,” Judge Bennett said. “Requests were made for briefings to the highest level of the RCMP, yet there is nothing that I have seen in writing that indicates who made the decision to stop pursuing minister Collins as a suspect and when that decision was made. It would be very surprising that such a document does not exist.”

This seems to me a very significant aspect of the judge's ruling...the implication of which if proven true would make this the biggest scandal ever.
B bell

Anonymous said...

hmmmm, so the case gets thrown out of court and everyone wins: the accused, Cabinet, ministers (both present and past)and Liberal party insiders (whether federal or provincial).

Oh, that would be everybody wins except the citizens of BC.

So if the case does get thrown out can a Royal Commission be held? not that I will be holding my breath.

And why is there no other MEDIA coverage with respect to this development?! Where is Tyee? the Globe??! Incredible dearth of anything . .

Anonymous said...

Oops, just googled and Mark Hume's piece in the Globe and Mail is excellent (unlike the very weak "story" in the Sun). And thank goodness for Mr. Tieleman's detailed coverage.

Bill Tieleman said...

Thanks for the kind comments. To respond to B. Bell's post, the Collins reference has been explored at length during the hearing and in my view was not the most significant part of Justice Bennett's decision.

I will have a lengthy piece in the Tyee Tuesday and reproduced here but have not looked at that aspect.

It will be a major story if a document appears outlining the RCMP's strategy regarding Collins but it may not exist.

Bill Tieleman said...

Just a note to say I've now included an item on Gary Collins and Justice Bennett's decision in a separate item on this blog.