Thursday, March 08, 2007

 

"Public interest in having this case heard, outweighs ... everything else," says Judge

.
Legislature raid case to go ahead, judge says

Despite defence application for disclosure, pretrial motions set to begin on April 16
The Globe and Mail - 8 March 2007
MARK HUME

VANCOUVER -- The judge in a case that involved an unprecedented police raid on the British Columbia Legislature made it clear yesterday the trial is going ahead despite a recent defence application for disclosure that led to some media speculation proceedings might be stayed.

"The public interest in having this case heard outweighs just about everything else," Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett of the B.C. Supreme Court said after hearing another lengthy wrangle over the disclosure process, during which it was revealed that the defence may seek privileged cabinet documents.

Judge Bennett's statement was unprompted, but in the context of the testy legal sparring that preceded it, the comment was clearly meant to signal the oft-delayed trial is still on track for pretrial motions to begin on April 16.

She set April 2 for the next court hearing. {snip}

The judge, who has often said she scrupulously avoids news coverage of the case, said she was surprised to pick up The Globe in Montreal and find a story about materials that had not yet been set before her.

Special Crown prosecutor William Berardino, Dave Basi's lawyer, Michael Bolton, and Aneal Basi's lawyer, Joseph Doyle, all told court they hadn't leaked the material.

"I can't assist," said Kevin McCullough, the lawyer for Mr. Virk.

Judge Bennett said she raised the matter because a member of the public* had written a letter of complaint saying he had sought, and been refused, a copy of the application from the court registry.

"These proceedings have to be as open as possible," she said. "We will have a system in place for proper access to documents [by the media and public]." {snip}

In the latest application, the defence describes the disclosure process as "materially flawed," and asks the court to issue 19 separate orders to force the release of specific documents.

That application, which contains unproven allegations, led to some media speculation that the Crown's case was in trouble.

But Mr. Berardino appeared not to think so, as he told the court he would be drafting a letter within 48 hours, disputing numerous allegations in the disclosure.

He said the defence would have to respond to that letter by providing documents to back up its claims. {snip} "He's got to do it in writing," Judge Bennett agreed.


* That "member of the public" is Robin Mathews whose watchful presence in court has not only represented the public but, I believe, has helped to raise the court's awareness of the public interest in the B.C. Rail case. Robin deserves great credit for his efforts in this. - BC Mary.

Full story: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20070308.BCVIRK08/TPStory/?query=mark+hume
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Comments:
It's good to hear that the judge thinks the public has an interest in this case. Maybe the judge should send an e-mail to Editor in Chief Lucinda in VickyTown.
 
Mary, I think Mark Hume also mentioned George Copley's presence in the court as well.

I think it might be interesting for readers to see that portion of the column too:
"George Copley, a lawyer representing the B.C. government's executive council, said that while most documents covered by privilege have been cleared for release, some 76 files were held back because they were considered irrelevant to the case.

Mr. Copley said those files, which the defence is seeking, would be provided to Judge Bennett for review and she could decide if they should be released."

It ties in with Robin's report nicely as well.
Thanks, as always, for everything you do.
AnonOmous
 
Many thanks, both.

I'm afraid I got the steam up, too, this morning about CanWest. How dare they call themselves a NEWSpaper.
 
Interesting that it was Mr. Hume's byline on this story and not Mr. Mason's.

Then again, as far as I'm aware, no one has ever suggested that the estimable Mr. Hume has ever been anyone's stenographer.

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AnonAbove -Mr. Mathews also made a point of raising the issue of all Justice Dohm's repressive protocol that has not yet been lifted.

Do the documents you referred to fall under that protocol?


RossK

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