Thursday, June 14, 2007

 

Defence stirs muddy political waters

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Vaughn Palmer's column today should get many British Columbians addressing their thoughts to him at vpalmer@direct.ca ... I hope so. - BC Mary.

DEFENCE'S FISHING EXPEDITION STIRS MUDDY POLITICAL WATERS

Vaughn Palmer
Vancouver Sun - Thursday, June 14, 2007

VICTORIA - The latest application for disclosure in the legislature raid court case casts a wide net, covering the entire government back to when the B.C. Liberals took office.

Defence lawyers are seeking anything that might be relevant to the case of three government aides facing corruption charges.

"All documents, records and information in electronic form, held in any office, storage facility or repository" says the application filed in B.C. Supreme Court, "from June 5, 2001, to the present day."

The defence specifically targeted records in the hands of the premier, nine current and former cabinet ministers, and two dozen public servants and political staffers.

But it also expanded the search to cover "the offices of all cabinet ministers and members of the legislative assembly ... all cabinet and caucus committees ... all government research, policy and communications offices."

Plus the current and former Speaker of the legislature, the office of the clerk of the house and the independent commissioner on conflict of interest. {Snip} ...

So, anything relating to: The sale of BC Rail. Duties and codes of conduct for government aides. Lobbying. Communications. Government-party relations. The course of the investigation, including wiretaps, search warrants and the decision to raid the legislature. And damage control related to all of the foregoing.

Defence lawyers have reason to suspect the Crown has been holding back.

An earlier disclosure application -- granted last fall -- brought a rich harvest of documents, including police notes not previously disclosed.

They recently won a second ruling from Justice Elizabeth Bennett, who condemned police and prosecution for a "substantial failure to respect the disclosure rights of the accused in this case."

The latest application faces an uphill battle, intruding as it does on the independence of government and the legislature from the courts.

At the very least, it means additional delays in a trial that has already been postponed half a dozen times, mainly because of holdups in disclosure of evidence.

Those multiple postponements raise the possibility that the entire case could be tossed on grounds that the accused have been denied the right to a reasonably speedy trial.

"Justice delayed is justice denied in the eyes of the Supreme Court of Canada," as my colleague Ian Mulgrew noted in his column in The Vancouver Sun on Monday.

Justice Bennett all but invited an application for abuse of process in her latest ruling.

"At this juncture I have little explanation as to why the disclosure process unfolded as it did," she observed.

But: "This is not an abuse of process application. The issues of good faith or bad faith have not been addressed and I will not comment on the process in this regard."

Later, she remarked on the "surprisingly late production of many police notes up to and including the course of this application."

But again: "I make no comment on whether this was due to oversight or intentional, as I have no evidence on these points and these are issues for another day."

Reading those comments, one can readily understand speculation that the case is headed for collapse.

The Liberals are said to be secretly hoping for such an outcome. But I'm not sure that would provide a way for them to escape the political fallout.

The defence might well decide to revive the case -- and all of its attendant political controversies -- via a suit for wrongful prosecution.

The end of criminal proceedings would also strip the Liberals of the excuse that they can't comment "because the matter is before the courts."

They resorted to that dubious line of defence some 150 times during the recent session of the legislature, by the Opposition's reckoning.

They'd no longer be able to duck the many issues raised in pretrial proceedings, from the questionable aspects of the sale of BC Rail to the involvement of government aides in political dirty tricks.

Then there's the call for a public inquiry. Rejectable as long as the matter is before the courts. Harder to dismiss if the case were gone from the court docket without the public knowing the whole story.

"The public interest in having this case heard outweighs just about everything else," as Justice Bennett declared earlier this year.

That's still the public interest, for all the obstacles in the way of a fair and open airing of the evidence.

vpalmer@direct.ca

http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/story.html?id=e50a2710-1e06-48b5-9fe3-c51d39d6f5a2
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I'm going to write. Are you? I'm going to ask Vaughn if he knows the answer to this question: if the delays are caused by the Defence requests, can they still claim that the delays are cause for a Charter challenge? Or, stated differently, if the Defence believes that evidence is being withheld, isn't this ... well, obstruction of justice? Or at very least, cause for a mistrial? - BC Mary.

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Comments:
Mary read the following lines over and over again. Vaughn Palmer understands where this is going, the defence lawyers aren't going to let this go away as the government would like.

"The Liberals are said to be secretly hoping for such an outcome. But I'm not sure that would provide a way for them to escape the political fallout.

The defence might well decide to revive the case -- and all of its attendant political controversies -- via a suit for wrongful prosecution."

This means the government has to answer questions, they can't hide that its before the courts!

"Then there's the call for a public inquiry. Rejectable as long as the matter is before the courts. Harder to dismiss if the case were gone from the court docket without the public knowing the whole story. "

Instead of emailing Vaughn Palmer we should be emailing sgt. debruyckere and asking him to come clean and disclose the documents the court has ordered him to hand over. After we are finished with him we should then call dear ol berardino and ask him where he has been!
 
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Gosh, Peter ... after I read your comment "over and over" (like I was born yesterday), may I ...

ask you if you have an e.mail address for Inspector deBruckyere who, I am sure, has been awaiting my call ...

Meantime, I truly can't understand why a real journalist (who only has to read something once, to get it) has never phoned Ol' Bill or at least his law office to ask where he is, and when he's coming back.

Hey. Why don't you??

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I took the suggestion of one of your posters and called ol berardino, never heard back!
 
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Hey, Peter, aren't you the guy who coined the phrase:

" over and over again" ???

Did you really expect Ol' Bill to call you back himself? At $550. an hour, or whatever? Come on.

But surely there's somebody in his office who knows the answer to that simple question: "Where's the Special Prosecutor?" and maybe also "Should we be looking for a new one?"

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Mary,

Why aren't you asking people to call Bill Berardino?

It seems to me as you think that Vaughn Palmer is the Judge, Jury and executioner.

Bill is the key Mary, to get this trial moving and on the right track. In our system of justice, the Special Prosecutor must present his case, not the Vancouver Sun.
 
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Anonymous 11:40,

Stop it, OK?

What is the point of asking me to do what I'm doing? Asking me to do what I've been doing all along?

You're making my head spin.

Spin ... that's it! You're one of those 185 NEW spin doctors ... um, er, communications officers hired last September, right?

Don't they let you actually READ my stuff as well as comment on it??

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Mary, if I promise that I am not one of those "New spin doctors" (you gave me a chuckle - thanks I needed that). . . here's a thought rumbling around in my mind:

Vaughn states the following:

"They recently won a second ruling from Justice Elizabeth Bennett, who condemned police and prosecution for a "substantial failure to respect the disclosure rights of the accused in this case." . . . . . Later, she remarked on the "surprisingly late production of many police notes up to and including the course of this application."

But again: "I make no comment on whether this was due to oversight or intentional, as I have no evidence on these points and these are issues for another day."


Why hasn't someone, including the Defence lawyers laid a significant complaint to the Police Complaints Commissioner regarding the incestuous political relationship that has been exposed in the pretrial evidence, between the RCMP & the BC Libs/Campbell clan?
 
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