Friday, May 15, 2009

Justice Elizabeth Bennett gone from Basi-Virk/BC Legislature Raid case! Promoted to BC Court of Appeal today

BC Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett will no longer preside over the longest political corruption case in British Columbia history.

Bennett was today promoted to the BC Court of Appeal, meaning a new justice must be appointed to oversee the case against former BC Liberal ministerial aides David Basi and Bob Virk and former government communications aide Aneal Basi in connection with the $1 billion privatization of BC Rail in 2003.

The case is still in the pre-trial stage, with a series of defence applications for disclosure rulings still to be heard, as well a wide-ranging defence application to have the charges thrown out of court.

And both the defence and special prosecutor teams are awaiting an important decision from the Supreme Court of Canada on whether it will uphold Bennett's ruling on secret witness testimony - a decision upheld by the BC Court of Appeal but appealed to the country's top court by Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino.

Berardino told Canadian Press today that Bennett's departure will not slow down the case further.

CP reports that Berardino said Bennett sent a memo assuring all sides the change won't cause more delays in a case that began with a high-profile police raid of the provincial legislature in December 2003.

"The trial judge's memorandum confirms, in my view, that her appointment to the Court of Appeal will not affect the timing of the case," Berardino told CP in an interview.

Berardino couldn't discuss what Bennett said in her memo.

* * * * *


The Vancouver Sun's Neal Hall reports today that David Basi's defence lawyer Michael Bolton is surprised but not alarmed that Bennett has been promoted off the case - and that in an unusual move, she will continue to hear some of the pre-trial applications.

"It's unusual in a situation like this where there has been extensive pre-trial motions," defence lawyer Michael Bolton told Hall.

"She will continue hearing part of the case," he added. "She has a very good grip on the case."

* * * * *

My understanding from legal sources is that judges apply to fill vacant positions, as opposed to being approached about an appointment.

Bennett was previously best known as the judge who acquitted former BC NDP Premier Glen Clark of breach of trust charges in 2002 over allegations concerning a casino license.

The official announcement of the appointment came - on the Friday afternoon of a long weekend - from the federal Conservative government - the relevant section follows:


OTTAWA, May 15, 2009 - The Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, today announced the following appointment:

The Honourable Elizabeth A. Bennett, a Judge of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, is appointed a Judge of the Court of Appeal for British Columbia. Madam Justice Bennett replaces Mr. Justice R.T.A. Low in Vancouver.

Madam Justice Bennett received her education at Simon Fraser University and went to Law School at the University of British Columbia. She was called to the Bar of British Columbia in 1982. Madam Justice Bennett was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1994 and was appointed a judge of the British Columbia Supreme Court in 1997.



Anonymous said...

King Gordon the First wins another round . . . and you democratic process fools get screwed again.
HA, HA, Ha !

The answer is obvious . . . Roundheads & Cold Steel !


Skookum1 said...

....sounds like what's needed is for an NDP or other member (Cummins?) to rise in the House of Commons and accuse the Tories of meddling in due process to protect its political friends. Doesn't have to be a British Columbian, even. Of course the big papers won't cover it, and nobody will notice.

time for Leonard Krog, and maybe Paul Nettleton, to up the ante and press even more loudly for the RCMP to lay charges, against others clearly implicated in wrongdoing. In order to protect the country's good name, before the US Securities & Exchange Commission becomes involved in investigating the suspect dealings of US companies in a foreign country.

Wouldn't it be fun if half the governing caucus came under criminal investigation but refused to resign, or to comment, saying "it's before the courts".....

But what a tragedy for US investigators to go where Canadians fear to, or just won't, tread.

The Banana Republic of the North, that's all BC is on the world scale, Expo/Olympics bedamned. A hick backwater full of crooked pols and stock market sharks, with some nice view property and lots of things you can have for near-free if you've got enough money to bribe the necessary officials. Excuse me "bribe" meaning "political donations".

What are American-owned companies doing making contributions to Canadian political parties anyway? How's that work, exactly?

I'm beginning to envy the US their elected judges and DAs; I used to think it was a bad thing. Now I see why it makes all too much sense.....

Anonymous said...

Appeals Court candidates apply to the Chief Justice of the Appeals Court, who appoints a committee to decide in secrecy. As for Bennett's acquittal of Glen Clark: don't thank her. He was charged with the sole purpose of toppling the government. I call it Canwest Coup 1. Clark's attornies tried to plead his air-tight barter defence, but Canwest mad dogs drowned him out. Prosecutors served the Libs. Remember when the Crown Attornies Assn. didn't get payback from the Libs, and referred to the Attorney General as a "misfeasant" in court papers? It didn't make the Canwest deceit machine.

Who gets appointed? In March 2008, I attended a UBC session on a judiciary career. All 6 judges, including Brenner (CJ, SCBC) and the late Hugh Stansfield (CJ, PCBC) admitted that they don't base appointments on the work record of candidates. They concurred with Stansfield's statement that they conduct a lengthy interrogatory, and then, "chose the person best suited for the position." Translation: they hire elitist kiss-asses who will tolerate excessive force by cops, nepotism in government and help the jobs-for-the-boys needs of the litigation industry.

Sounds good. Except for the fact that those most likely to apply natural justice, are least likely to get an appointment. My analysis of appointments resulted in this selection preference from most likely to least: crown prosecutors, crown attornies, administrative lawyers (govt service), corporate attornies, estate/family lawyers, specialist civil attornies (large firms), general civil attornies (private practice}, members of the Defence Bar. Over 70% of attornies have ZERO chance at a Bench appointment.

So how do I explain the Leask and St Pierre appointments to the SCBC and PCBC, respectively? Leask beat the exclusion because: he was already close to the 75 mandatory retirement age and he worked on the fascistic, "Street Justice" committee. St Pierre is an African-Canadian who once sued Canwest; it is likely that they feared he would go apeshit at another failed attempt, after Geoff Gaul and Michael Hicks were dragged from Crown positions (those bastards were accessories to the Frank Paul atrocity, and were appointed to the Bench so they wouldn't have to testify at Braidwood).

As for the treatment of Leask (defence bar appointment). Oppal made a preliminary statement to the media, within hours after Leask uttered profanity in a rare SCBC trial. Brenner sent the audio to Oppal, notwithstanding Canadian Judicial Council jurisdiction, who pressured an abject apology from Leask. I am not aware of a single criminal case that has been assigned to Leask after same (St Pierre's law firm handled the defence in the case; Neal Cobb blasted the AG for interference).

Why are there only 450 trials out of 60,000 filings at the SCBC? Brenner orders his attack dogs - court masters - to sandbag the 40% that are filed by private litigators. Further, govt. parties and corporations connnected to the Liberal Party, win nearly 100% of Motion and Trial judgments. Even when they lose, winning amounts are always reduced to Small Claims amounts. Brenner mal-administration of the courts to the private benefit of elites, has resulted in 9,000 attornies assuming Barrister practice (the entire UK gets by with 1000).

I am trying to get the First Estate (CBC) to examine the Brenner-farce. If they take the issue, that will be a huge embarassment for the Canwest savages who share wine and cheese with the Chief Justice.

See how a man was mangled by a police dog, and received next to nothing in the Brenner-Chamber.

RossK said...

Mr. Beradino's assurances to the contrary, I can't help but think of this as a FedCon-assisted "Friday Afternoon Massacre".


DPL said...

Good for her. She must have been geting tired of the long delays, and being lectured to by lawyers and the special Prosecutor. As usual, anything happening in BC gets announced Friday afternoon

Anonymous said...

friday afternoon eh? How typical, even for the federal conservatives?
We wait with baited breath!

David St. Hubbins said...

According to CBC radio reports earlier today, 'officials' with BC AG's ministry remarked that Bennett's appointment does not necessarily mean she won't continue with the Basi-Virk case. However, given her expressions of frustration with the snail's pace over the past five year, I wouldn't blame her for leaving this file behind.

Anonymous said...

already this year a case was thrown out for taking too long.probably not the first or last.
also years ago a lawyer was replaced in a ongoing case soon after an elecion.

Skookum1 said...

Just noting re "the Brenner-Chamber" that "Brenner" in German means "burner"....

BC Liberals Suck said...

"Wouldn't it be fun if half the governing caucus came under criminal investigation but refused to resign, or to comment, saying "it's before the courts".....

Well, the BC Liberal Party, Rich Coleman and Mary Polak are still under RCMP investigation due to allegations of interference in the Langley municipal election. John Les is still under RCMP investigation for alleged improprities related to removal of land from ALR while he served on Chilliwack city council and just happened to be a real estate developer. Then we have John Van Dongen who of course had his own Ministry remove his driver's licenseor reckless driving. BTW, are we, as taxpayers, paying his transportation costs right now, is that bus fare, private driver???

Re: Legislature Raids/Sale of BC Rail - we all know there are some pretty clear linkages to the highest people in the Cabinet and that this government has used all of it's power to delay and manipulate this trial for very instrumental reasons.

Anonymous said...

Crap does make its way to the top. Bennett is now bobbing around with the rest of the morons in our so called Justice system.

Bill Tieleman said...

I'd like to clear the record on the issue of BC Liberal cabinet ministers Rich Coleman and Mary Polak being "under investigation" by the RCMP - that issue has been dealt with and dismissed.

On March 31, 2009 the Langley Advance reported that:

"There are no grounds to support allegations that Langley MLA Mary Polak and Fort Langley-Aldergrove MLA Rich Coleman violated the Local Government Act, said RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Peter Thiessen.

RCMP E Division's commercial crime section and the Langley detachment reviewed a complaint laid by Sonya Paterson, formerly a school trustee."

The full story is at:

Anonymous said...

Re the Coleman/Polak complaints: the disposition is dubious. Coleman shouldn't have been investigated by RCMP, because he was a long term member; a Special Prosecutor should have taken the case. At issue was whether Coleman/Polak contributed financially to an ad in which they endorsed candidates. In her complaint, Sonya Paterson suggested that if Jordan Bateman (Coleman campaign chairman; Langley councillor; right wing blogger) contributed to the ad financing then any Coleman' source of funds would have engaged statutes. It appears that the RCMP relied on bare denials from Coleman/Polak. Coleman is back in the SG office; the NDP should ask the RCMP to disclose the depth of their investigation. It is true that there are no published facts that indicate wrongdoing.

Bare denial shouldn't resolve complaints. In the Robert Sommers (WAC Bennet's Forestry Minister) corruption case, police were reluctant to test his denials of taking bribes from Mac Blo, by probing financial records. He was so confident that he sued his accusers, delaying justice for 3 years and nearly ruining honest scrutineers. When he was convicted, he became the first Cabinet Minister in the Commonwealth to be jailed.

Oh yeah, the RCMP are building themselves a $47,000,000 palace in Prince George. You won't be able to see the internal waterfalls and fancy wood inlays, because your role is to pay for this crap.

With Canwest conditioned voter indulgence of corruption, hold on to your wallets for the next 4 years.

Norm Farrell said...

As someone who dealt repeatedly with Justice Bennett in her community and youth support endeavors (not legal matters), I know her as a person of impeccable ethics and absolute commitment to fairness and justice. She is not and never has been a tool of politicians or special interests. The judge has handled this case with an even hand and has encouraged public disclosure of information that government supporters hoped would remain private.

It is foolish and inappropriate for anyone to cast unsupported insults toward a person with an unmatched record of public service, particularly when that person cannot answer back. Judges conduct business in public and their words are subject to thorough scrutiny, and ultimately, to review of the highest court in Canada.

We are much better off with judges who are youthful, family and community oriented people than the old style aging political hacks that were appointed in Canada a few decades ago.

DPL said...

Most us must believe the judge is fair and her rulings just. There is no judicial conspiracy. We all should know as well that if her ruling is off base, there is a couple of levels above her. Let's not be nasty. Sure we are upset by the time this case it taking up. She mentioned she wanted movement on the case, something we all want. Just remember reputations and future jobs are at stake.

There is no jury and this isn't a one hour TV court case. Heck if you think this is slow, go hang around a treaty table. some of those negotiations have been going, off and on for well over ten years. Patience is a virtue.

Skookum1 said...

To Norman Farrell and DPL: please don't get the idea that all posting here are suspicious of Judge Bennett; on the contrary most people following the Basi-Virk trial have come to respect her common sense and patience, and also her support for the public interest that led to the unsealing of (most of) the documents.

It's the political manoeuvre, apparently by the federal government and it must be assumed in consultation with the provincial government, coming on the heels of the election, that has us most....upset, I suppose is the best word to use. There has been much worry that a Liberal victory in the election would lead to a quashing of the trial and associated revelations, and/or to other political interference. If that translates into a few suspicious or hostile words by one or two bloggers about HER integrity, rest assured for most of us it's not her integrity that's of most concern. It's the integrity of the politicians in charge of moving her upstairs, and in charge of appointing the next judge in the case.

DPL "She mentioned she wanted movement on the case, something we all want. Just remember reputations and future jobs are at stake."

It's the reputations and jobs of those implicated by the revealed documents that are definitely at stake; I know you're talking about jobs in the justice system, it's just a bit ironic you would word things that way....and I do have to ask - how does movement in the case translate into moving off of it. I appreciate she's being kept on for more pre-trial hearings, but damn does whomever takes over the case have a lot of studying to do huh?

Protecting justice department jobs and reputations is one thing. Shielding politicians' reputations and jobs is another; not that that's what SHE has been doing; but it certainly is in the playbook of both the federal and provincial ruling parties, who'd like all this swept under the rug.

Who knows, though, maybe a judge will be appointed who turns out to be a maverick and not take the political marching orders at face value. I'm not holding my breath, though....

DPL said...

Did you hear the latest from Saint Gordo and crew? Came out today. They want the government employees except those in certain jobs to volunteer to do a four day week to help out the government. Didn't take them long to get back to cutting. Sorry it wasn't in this item about the judge, but I didn't see that gem in any paper but the Times Colonist. They are up the creek financially and need cash quickly should be a stormy few years ahead. And I was not talking about jobs for anyone but the innocent till proven folks.

Anonymous said...

I agree with DPL and Skookum. I don't question Justicee Bennett's integrity, but in the context of this particular trial the mere optics of this promotion are quite unfortunate.

Kam Lee said...

Just a thought for our right wing ding friends, Would you vote again for gordo if he is found guilty of involvement in the BC Rail (scandal) sale? A simple question for those simple-minded folks. I guarantee they would blame the NDP for that one also. Give us back our province!