Monday, June 11, 2007

 

Robin Mathews on the right of access by Canadians to court documents on public record, especially those relating to Basi, Virk, Basi

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Professor Mathews has provided a copy to The Legislature Raids of the letter he wrote to Canada's highest court ... and others.
- BC Mary.
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5xx Sxxxxxxxx Drive,
Vancouver, B.C., V5L xxx,
[June] 7, 2007

Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett,
The Law Courts, 800 Smythe Street,
Vancouver, B.C., V6Z 2E1

cc. Chief Justice B. McLachlin, Supreme Court of Canada; Chief Justice Donald Brenner, Supreme Court of British Columbia; The Honourable Robert Nicholson, Minister of Justice, Canada; Joe Comartin, MP, NDP Justice Critic, House of Commons: Marlene Jennings, MP, Liberal Justice Critic, House of Commons; Libby Davies, MP, House of Commons; Leonard Krog, MLA, NDP Justice Critic, B.C.; B.C. Civil Liberties Association; Court Officer H.L. McBride; William Berardino, Michael Bolton, Joseph Doyle, Andrea Mackay, Kevin McCullough; Press/Media; others.




Dear Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett:

I received two letters from the Supreme Court of British Columbia on June 5, 2007 (dated May 29 and May 31) related to the right of access by Canadians to court documents on public record especially as they relate to the Basi, Virk, and Basi (criminal) matter with which you are presently seized (a matter fraught with implication for the government in power in B.C.). I believe the letters may entangle the writer (and probably others) in falsehood, communication of misinformation, calculated discourtesy, and an attempt to "bureaucratize away" any fair request by Canadians for information that should, without impediment, be supplied. Reasons for that disturbing situation must, I am afraid, be examined.

Canadians look to their higher courts as bastions of fair-mindedness, openness, impartiality, and transparency. We expect from our high court officers a quality of behaviour that gives them the right to the title "Honourable". We do not expect from them political pandering and partisan decision making.


The particular matter in question is of wider interest than the Supreme Court of B.C. or of the particular matters relating to the accused: Basi, Virk, and Basi. It involves, I allege, (and I write this with the greatest pain and reluctance) an attempt by judges of the Supreme Court of British Columbia (yourself among them) to remove the fundamental and long recognized freedom of Canadians to examine and to possess documents on public record in criminal proceedings as a matter of fundamental importance to the just and the honourable and the open conduct of British Columbia society. To encapsule the absurdity of that totalitarian move, no Canadian is able to review (and to possess if he or she should wish) transcripts of the day to day open court transactions in the Basi, Virk, and Basi matters as they have been conducted from, say, February 26, 2007.

As your amanuensis H. L. McBride wrote (on your behalf) to me as a solution to that problem (April 25, 2007): "The courtroom is open; you are free to attend the proceeding, as is any other member of the public".

What she is saying (on your behalf) is that to know what occurs in that important public tribunal - the Supreme Court proceedings involving the highest public interest and possibly destructive State malfeasance - a Canadian must attend every moment of it and must somehow (an impossibility) be able to record everything that occurs - because the officers of the court are going to provide no access to transcripts of record. Her latest letter to me (on your behalf) informing me of a new, added, highly bureaucratic complex of absurd steps to be taken in order to have a request for access to documents even considered is so obviously a measure of calculated obstruction that it is insulting.

That very dangerous step and the general gag order constitute, I sincerely believe, a totalitarian move to insure public ignorance which serves - intentionally or not - to protect wrong-doers in the society (in this case perhaps wrong doers who might be found at the highest levels of political power and activity in the Province).

The two letters were in reply to letters I addressed to you and to Chief Justice Donald Brenner containing questions about (a) the so-called Practice Direction of Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm imposing an almost universal and odious gag order on materials on public record in Criminal Registry of the Supreme Court of B.C.; about (b) your particular and "special" protocol for access to some documents in the Basi, Virk, and Basi matter presently before the Supreme Court; and (c) about the particular and formal request I have made to you to examine and hold some of the documentation on public record.

The letters I received in reply contradict earlier information I was sent, suggesting - at the very kindliest - confusion in the administration of the Supreme Court. The letters, moreover, withhold courteous assistance. In addition, they take for granted that my formal request to you (which I was advised to make by the court officer in your name) is wholly inadequate (which it isn't). She states that according to "Supreme Court Criminal Rules", I "(or your counsel) must complete Form 1, serve the application on all of the parties and appear to speak to the application." She does not include Form 1 for my use. To do so would have accorded me the barest measure of courtesy which should be granted to any Canadian calling upon a Supreme Court for responsible communication. Her discourtesy is a sign of "attitude", of intention.

I conclude (a) the "Supreme Court Criminal Rules" referred to in the letter are part and/or extension of the intolerable and odious gag order Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm has imposed on almost all matters of public record in Criminal Registry.

I conclude (b) the labyrinthine procedure put in place has been maliciously constructed to dissuade Canadians from seeking information they have an undoubted right to possess.

I conclude (c) the mere fact of the labyrinthine procedure having been constructed is an admission of the part of the senior Supreme Court officers that they do not have the right to deny access to matters on public record.

Finally, I conclude (d) that the increasingly complex fabric constructed to prevent Canadians from gaining access to material on public record (held in Criminal Registry) - which it is their fundamental freedom to request and to have supplied to them without delay - has been constructed to deny a fundamental freedom of Canadians and to do so - I am reluctantly forced to deeply suspect - on behalf of criminal interests in the Province.

Indeed, I specifically asked Chief Justice Donald Brenner to "conduct a full review of the repressive protocol [of Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm] and write a letter to me (that may be made public) to state your findings." That request is general and does not bear specifically on Basi, Virk, and Basi matters. The Chief Justice is not only free to answer that request, he is honour bound to do so. The letter of H.L. McBride on behalf of the Chief Justice (May 31) postures in such a way as to pretend that question was not asked of the Chief Justice. It was asked, carefully, on two separate occasions. The refusal to admit that the question was asked is an obnoxious and insulting form of obstruction.

I wrote above that I may have been lied to on instruction from you and the Chief Justice. That is a serious suggestion. On March 30, 2007, H. L. McBride, Supreme Court Law Officer, wrote the following to me on your behalf: "If you wish to obtain access to other documents which may be contained in the court file, you must make a request in writing to Madam Justice Bennett or to the Chief Justice."

On May 20,2007, I wrote to you a "formal request" asking permission to have such access. (My first letter to Chief Justice Brenner for access was April 1, 2007; my second to him was May 21, 2007).

In reply dated May 29, 2007, H.L. McBride wrote: "If you wish to obtain access to the material - you must invoke the Court's formal process which is established by the Supreme Court Criminal Rules. Pursuant to the Criminal Rules, you (or your counsel) must complete Form 1, serve the application on all parties and appear to speak to the application".

That is a completely different set of requirements than was conveyed to me on March 30. Why? Am I being lied to? I am afraid the answer (on the face of it) is obvious. A first "put off" letter was tried and failed. When I undertook to write the kind of letter H.L.McBride described, then a tougher, more complicated kind of "put off" was employed to insure THAT NO PERSON MAY LOOK AT DOCUMENTS AND TRANSCRIPTS TO WHICH CANADIANS HAVE AN ABSOLUTE RIGHT TO GAIN ACCESS. If I were to complete the requirements most recently set out by your amanuensis, doubtless I would be denied access on a technicality; or a further, illegitimate hurdle would be placed in the way.

In addition, H.L. McBride writes: "Madam Justice Bennett cannot and will not make any decisions with respect to access to material filed in this proceeding unless and until a formal application is presented to her". I suggest to you that Madam Justice Bennett WILL not make any decisions, but that H.L. McBride is failing to tell the truth when she writes Madam Justice Bennett "cannot." The power of a Supreme Court judge is sufficient, I suggest, to provide you room to deal with this matter simply and expeditiously if you want to do so. "Madam Justice Bennett, in fact, can make decisions with respect to access to materials." H.L. McBride, I suggest is, in fact, conveying a falsehood.

You are choosing, I suggest, to place every difficulty in the way of Canadians (for whom I have requested permission to gain access to materials) because you have chosen to support the intolerable, odious, and totalitarian gag order imposed by Associate Chief Justice Dohm on almost all documents placed on public record in Criminal Registry of the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

So strange and contradictory have been the replies of your amanuensis H.L. McBride that she may be thought - by many reasonably fair minded people, I suggest - to be incompetent or dishonest. Whatever the case, her juggling of matters to suit whatever convenience seems useful at a particular moment does little to inspire confidence in her or in any with whom she is associated.

I am certain that your concern for the good name of the Supreme Court of British Columbia and for the integrity and transparency of all matters in which it engages is as great as mine is. I am equally certain you are deeply concerned that the public interest must be served by the Supreme Court of British Columbia fairly, transparently, impartially, sensitively, and with a fundamental concern for what ordinary people call "decency". For that reason I ask you to refer again to my request to you of May 20, 2007, to gain access to daily court transcripts in the Basi, Virk, and Basi matter and to gain access to the 14 affidavits made in recent weeks by (mostly) police officers. I make that formal request again here; and I shall look eagerly for your reply (through an appropriate court officer, of course).

Respectfully,

Robin Mathews

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Comments:
"Canadians look to their higher courts as bastions of fair-mindedness, openness, impartiality, and transparency. We expect from our high court officers a quality of behaviour that gives them the right to the title "Honourable". We do not expect from them political pandering and partisan decision making."

KUDOS TO YOU, PROF. MATHEWS! Your courage & ability to speak/act on behalf of British Columbians who agree with your gifted, eloquent, ethical perspective, is to be commended.

Your letter details the rampant unacceptable stonewalling/cover-ups now ubiquitous at the highest levels of our so called democracy -all designed to protect high profile politicians & other rogues from their dirty deals from being aired & put to the publics test of decency; a horror story where basic ETHICS/DECENCY have gone down the tube; a pattern that has become all too prevalent in the Supreme Court, the RCMP, the MSM & the Govt. of BC.

Shame on you Judge Bennett if you are part & parcel to this odious game. I will wait to see what your answer is to Prof. Robins. I had believed you were above the circle of cover-up that has been operating. Please prove the Professor wrong re: his concerns about YOU.

Many of us know this is not the first time this 'odious game' has occurred, as I have alluded to in other posts. None of this is good enough for decent British Columbians.It is rot that must be removed in all of these systems that operate as a closed circle for political interests NOT THE PUBLICS.

Thank you Mary for sharing Robin's letter - His words of fact wield a big club & I for one, am grateful. High five, Prof. Mathews!
 
Congratulations on a letter well written. I hope Madam Justice Bennett actually receives it, and that it is not intercepted by H.L. McBride.
 
The decision of Justice Bennett was made available at the Supreme Court registry. Maybe not on Monday June 4, but on Thursday June 7. And presumably thereafter.

Now, we'll wait to see if one of these Learned Litigators will explain this clearly when and if they reply to Prof. Mathews.
 
Thank you Robin Mathews. A very simple and decent request that speaks to the concerns of many of us. Its intent honest and straightforward....just like you. Yet that very quality appears to be threatening to some quarters....quarters where honesty and straightforwardness should be paramount.

Perhaps it is tugging too tightly on some purposely tangled threads thought to be unravel-proof.

Sometimes I think this case has been purposely made to encompass too much, too many animals on the Ark so to speak.... so that it finally sinks with the weight of so much to consider and contend with.

Hopefully the counterweight of a growing public concern will prevail, keeping it and the answers to our questions afloat.
 
Anonomouse (number ?) sez:

"The decision of Justice Bennett was made available at the Supreme Court registry. Maybe not on Monday June 4, but on Thursday June 7. And presumably thereafter.

Now, we'll wait to see if one of these Learned Litigators will explain this clearly when and if they reply to Prof. Mathews."


If you are the anonymouse that sometimes adds a dl after a comment, then thanks to your superior problem solving abilities compared to we plebes, you are probably perusing the 37 pages as I type. So share them with we who are so helpless and save us from flailig about in frustration.

You know you would love to show your mastery of the system!!! We lowlies would really be grateful as well - win-win!!!
 
Again:

"The decision of Justice Bennett was made available at the Supreme Court registry. Maybe not on Monday June 4, but on Thursday June 7."

Made available to WHOM?
 
To clarify, Justice Elizabeth Bennett read her decision in open BC Supreme Court on Monday June 4. She made available copies of that decision in writing at the Supreme Court registry very shortly thereafter, which is where I picked it up.

Justice Bennett also agreed to have the latest defence disclosure application released and it was also made available in short order that same day, June 7.

The entire defence disclosure application is available on my website at this URL:

http://billtieleman.blogspot.com/2007/06/basi-virk-defence-disclosure_07.html

I understand Robin Mathews' frustration but I am not aware of any requirement for transcripts to be produced in a pre-trial hearing - I don't proclaim to be a veteran court reporter and may be mistaken but I've seen no complaints on that score by any of the media who regularly cover the courts, nor from their publishers.

Regards - Bill Tieleman
 
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Bill,

On behalf of those like myself who are trying to follow this trial (hearings) as best we can, thanks very much for helping once again.

It was you who unlocked the mysteries of accessing the Daily Court Lists so that by clicking onto the link in the left-hand column here, we can find out who's in court today, on what charges, and where we can go to watch the proceedings.

Obtaining documents was our next big challenge.

And I think what Robin Mathews is trying to do with regard to easily getting our hands on actual court documents -- he's slashing away at the underbrush, trying to make a trail for the rest of us to follow, come what may.

With your help and his -- and Judge Bennett's -- we are much better able to access the court system.

Many thanks indeed.

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Bill, if you have a copy of the decision (not the application), is there some reason you don't share it with the rest of us........or is it the decision of a Star Chamber and not available except to "special" folks.

I can't even find notice of that decision at Court Registry online, though I can find another case citing the Basi-Virk decision as a precedent no less (The Basi Protocol).
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In the case of:
Blue Line Hockey Acquisition Co., Inc. v. Orca Bay Hockey Limited Partnership,
2007 BCSC 651


"Mr. Gibson, counsel for the Vancouver Sun, initially proposed a protocol similar in substance to that established by Madam Justice Bennett in Protocol for Public Access in R v. Basi, Virk and Basi, Vancouver Registry No. VA23299 "
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Ah hah, we are into the twilight zone now.....secret precedents. What's next secret handshakes, oh yeah, they already have those. I have found a couple one page memos from Justice Bennett derived from this proceeding. But, a 37 page decision, blasting in all directions......I've heard of it, lots of people talk about it, but can it be read or heard? I've never seen it, or was injected with forget everything drugs immediately after seeing such documents. Would Justice Bennett call me and read it aloud to my tape recorder and me?

But then I have no standing I guess, I'm just a citizen of British Columbia. I'm just another nameless and irrelevant victim in the case of the rapidly disappearing public assets.

House of Infamy
 
High five, Koot - & you also gave me a chuckle . . . twilight zone indeed those Supreme Courts - all sorts of strange happenings occur behind closed doors of that secret fraternity.
 
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