Wednesday, July 18, 2007

 

Number of RCMP officers involved in the Basi-Virk-Basi investigation: 50

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Sometimes when we look back through old documents, certain things seem to leap from the page, as if we had never seen them before. For his June 6, 2007 story "The Paper of No Record" I thank Ian Reid at http://Reidandwrite.ca/blog/ in which he compared how Neil Hall's story had been presented in Vancouver Sun and Victoria Times Colonist. But what leapt out at me was this single paragraph:


SUBMIT ALL EVIDENCE, POLICE TOLD

Judge says there has been a 'substantial failure' to respect disclosure rights of accused


Neal Hall
Vancouver Sun - Tuesday, June 05, 2007

{Snip} ... He estimated 50 RCMP officers were involved in the investigation. He was uncertain how long it would take for each officer to check whether everything has been disclosed to the defence.

"The judge ordered it be done forthwith," Bolton said. "This is not something that can drag on." {Snip} ...

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And then there are other old items fondly remembered, like this one from RossK's http://pacificgazette.blogspot.com/ dated May 16, 2007:

MR CHASE'S JOB DESCRIPTION ...
BCRailGate
TrialVille


Mr. Stuart Chase is a British Columbia government employee.

That means that we, the people, pay his salary.

As part of his job the good Mr. Chase apparently makes his way to BC Supreme Courtroom #54 in downtown Vancouver to sit in on the BC RailGate pre-trial hearings.

And, according to one of BC Mary's eyewitness Anon-O-Mice, this is what the good Mr. Chase does:

Mr. Chase doesn't talk with reporters. He doesn't talk with members of the public. He sits on his own on the left hand side of the gallery.

When court rises he gathers his things and leaves directly, takes the elevator down to the Smythe street entrance, jaywalks across the street towards Hornby, crosses at the light and strides into 865 Hornby, where the Ministry of Tourism has offices. It is there, I presume, that he files his reports, twice daily.

I'd say he has more than a hundred pages of hand written notes to date to draw from. Oddly, he seems much more engaged and active in the note taking department when the defence is before the court.

According to Attorney General Wally Oppal, however, the good Mr. Chase is actually there to help the media and members of the public in the courtroom gallery and, I dunno, perhaps wayward schoolchildren and folks who get lost heading back to their cars in the courthouse parking garage after shopping on Robson St., understand the intricacies of our legal system.

Which, of course, is quite at odds with the Anon-O-Mouse's description.

But who ya gonna believe these days, anyway......

A highly respected member of the British Columbia legislature who works in the highest capacity for the Premier, Mr. Gordon Campbell, or some lowly member of the public who is just doing his or her best to find out what is really going on.

Well, luckily, we have a report from Les Leyne in the Times-Colonist who discovered what the good Mr. Chase is really up to by, get this, asking him:

At the risk of putting the young man on the outs with his boss, it was Chase himself who cheerfully set the record straight.

In an interview later, Chase said he sits in on the trial daily and sends a straight factual report on proceedings twice each day to the director and the manager of the attorney general's public affairs division. Those reports give them a sense of what's going on. He doesn't brief reporters, he doesn't talk to the public.

Hmmmm......

Looks like the highly respected, and highly respectable, Mr. Oppal has some explaining to do.

And it also looks like it is getting to the point where we, the public, may wish to consider the possibility that everything Mr. Oppal has to say about this matter from now on may actually be a highly respectable and respected attempt at, how shall we phrase it.....

Obfuscation?

Which is, of course, just a very respectable and highly respected way of saying lying.

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An informative report in the CanWest newspapers on Constable Joe Slemko makes it more clear how the police fit into the scenes in Courtroom 54/53. The URL is provided below, but here's the segment asking: is the police or is it the Crown providing evidence at trial? There's way more to it, of course. See: POLICE WITNESS POLICY UNDER FIRE by Charles Rusnell. Edmonton Journal - 18 July 2007:

Quote: The Edmonton Police Service contends Slemko places himself in a conflict every time he testifies for the defence. Police officers must clear all outside work and are barred from any business activity that "might reasonably be expected to impair their judgment, independence or unbiased performance of police duty." Supt. Dwayne Gibbs, the head of EPS human resources, decided Slemko was in a conflict because the EPS believes the Crown and police are "indivisible" in a prosecution. Slemko has defied the policy because he said he will not compromise his values as a police officer.

Full report at: http://www.canada.com/edmontonjournal/news/cityplus/story.html?id=f778b39e-9a8d-4b9f-b084-8f7406fb548e&k=673

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With a very interesting update in Victoria Times Colonist, as follows:


[EDMONTON] CITY COPS SCRAP BID TO REIN IN EXPERT OFFICER

Chief reverses policy declaring it a conflict of interest for police to be defence witnesses

Charles Rusnell,
The Edmonton Journal: Thursday, July 19, 2007

EDMONTON - In an abrupt about-face, the Edmonton Police Service has dropped a controversial policy that barred one of its officers, an internationally recognized blood-spatter expert, from testifying for the defence as a private consultant in criminal cases.

Saying he wouldn't be bound by the policy of a previous administration, Chief Mike Boyd said he had no problems with Const. Joe Slemko testifying for the defence.

"I have no concern about any police officer testifying in court either for the defence or the Crown," Boyd said after a police commission meeting Wednesday. "There is no ownership of a witness. So when a police officer gives evidence in court -- either to the benefit of an accused or the detriment of an accused -- they give their evidence independently, objectively, honestly."

Boyd was forced to address the policy before the police commission Wednesday after The Journal revealed this week that Slemko has twice been convicted of insubordination for defying the policy and faces a third internal disciplinary hearing this fall. Slemko also has been denied his 20-year exemplary service medal.

Until Wednesday, city police had contended Slemko placed himself in a conflict every time he testified for the defence. Police officers must clear all outside work with the department and are barred from any business activity that "might reasonably be expected to impair their judgment, independence or unbiased performance of police duty."

Supt. Dwayne Gibbs, the head of EPS human resources, decided Slemko was in a conflict because the department believes the Crown and police are "indivisible" in a prosecution.

Slemko has said he defied the policy because he will not compromise his values as a police officer, which are based on seeking the truth.

Boyd said he does not agree that the Crown and police are "indivisible," and during the commission meeting read from a recent policy statement of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police that said the police and prosecution should be independent but must co-operate in the administration of justice. {Snip}...

The police department's policy barring Slemko from testifying for the defence has been sharply criticized by academics and the union representing rank-and-file officers. They said EPS management should not be allowed to tell officers who they can testify on behalf of.

crusnell@thejournal.canwest.com
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Which re-opens my question: who, in the Basi-Virk-Basi trial, is responsible for providing the documents required by the defence: the RCMP? Or the Crown prosecution? - BC Mary

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Comments:
Here is my understanding, Mary re: your question:

"who, in the Basi-Virk-Basi trial, is responsible for providing the documents required by the defense: the RCMP? Or the Crown prosecution?"

Firstly in criminal proceedings where the allegations involve government, the police be it the RCMP or any police force investigate based on evidence they receive from any number of sources.

Secondly, they then communicate those findings to the Criminal Justice Branch & can directly ask for an independent Special Prosecutor (from a private law firm) to give advice advice or a Special Prosecutor is appointed where the police recommend charges against senior government officials so there is some independence from the crown, rather than crown prosecutors taking the case. The Assistant Deputy Minister in charge of the Criminal Justice Branch appoints the Special Prosecutors, Mr. Bob Gillen.

Unlike in the U.S. & the many TV programs showing prosecutors actively investigating the bad guys - this is NOT the role of prosecutors, special or otherwise in Canada.

So, the Special Prosecutors are reliant on being handed the evidence that the police have gathered in their reviews/investigations. SP can recommend charges or not or conduct the actual prosecution in a trial as we are seeing with the Basi/Virk trial.

Of course, like anywhere else in the system, SP are human & can be open to political influence . . there are no guarantees at any step along path in life - right???

The public is very much reliant on everyone involved in such cases, of ethical conduct by everyone in the justice system. Does this always happen: NO

I believe the crown (the Govt itself: the Ministers, the clerks office, the Deputy Ministers et al) & the RCMP have all been ordered by the Judge to produce any & all documents related to the Raid on the Leg trial from every nook & dark cranny, because there has clearly been not full disclosure for whatever reasons.

It is hard to say if the Special Prosecutors held back some of this evidence they received from the Defense or whether they themselves did not have some of the evidence that has been uncovered in the pretrial. It's a little hazy here.

Leading up to a trial, lawyers on both sides request documents from each other & have shared document binders. In the pretrial, the Defense lawyers were taken aback at the amount of evidence that suddenly surfaced. Whose fault was that that it was suppressed?

For instance - S/Sgt. Bud Bishop's notes proved to be a "treasure trove" of information . . . why would a police officer go to all the trouble of making detailed notes if he did not want those notes to be used???? Seems like there is a contradiction.

Why would the lead investigator, Insp. DeBruyckere's wishes to investigate Min. Collins & his ilk (Campbell? Dobell? Clarke? Reid? Coleman? or any other political master) NOT be carried out?

The only reasonable conclusion is POLITICAL INTERFERENCE perhaps at the top levels of the RCMP in conjuction with the Campbell Govt.?

During the pretrial we already learned that Asst. Deputy Commissioner Gary Bass was chatted up by the Solicitor General's office telling them (!!!!!!) NOT to pursue the investigation against Collins & heaven knows who else that were huddled in Hawaii. What is wrong with this picture? I doubt that Bishop & DeBruyckere were stonewalling.

So, it would seem that the RCMP, the Govt., the Special Prosecutors are all responsible to unearth & keep the flow of evidence coming according to the court order, so as both the Special Prosecutors & the Defense lawyers have the benefit of ALL OF THE TRUTH - not just the sanitized version.

From what I have experienced on my journey, the rot usually starts at the top.

I stand to be corrected on any of the above by anyone more understanding of the process than I.
 
earseyeswideopen,

Many, many thanks for this lucid resume. It does help.

Right there in the 3rd Paragraph from the end of your comments, is the Giant Conundrum.

I think that most observers have developed a strong hunch that there's a bottleneck in the line-up you mention, of "RCMP, the government, the Special Prosecutors".

There were 50 RCMP officers working on this investigation so there's obviously a ton of documents, notes, wiretaps, witness deals, observations ... all of it presumably collated and prepared for presentation.

So far as I know, nobody has seen even the legal agreement under which our B.C. Railway was sold.

I won't embarrass you by suggesting you name the people (or even the department) creating this effective bottleneck.

All I'd like to ask you or anyone willing to comment, is:

1) what would the charge be: Obstruction of Justice? Contempt of Court?

2) how could that kind of legal bottleneck in such an important trial, be met??

3) Who could launch the legal challenge? Must it come from the Attorney General (ha ha)? ... from the bench? ... or could a Concerned Citizen do it?

There does seem to be an alarming serenity descending upon the entire scene. It's like "Move along, folks ... ain't nothin' to see here ... just move along."

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You are welcome, Mary. I would appreciate it if anyone would like to clarify my comment above, further.

"So far as I know, nobody has seen even the legal agreement under which our B.C. Railway was sold. BC Mary

Blatant stonewalling, oui? BC Rail was owned by the people for the people; it was sold by politicians behind secretive doors, for the benefit of their pals everywhichway.

Wherever there is stonewalling one can guarantee there is desperate, dirty dealing to block the truth which would bring the culprits down; back field in motion to protect reputations of highly placed people - at ANY COST.

Another factor we should all consider is: what Basi & Virk have on those same people that they could sing publically about, including in court.

Re: your questions; I'll give it a whirl:

1. I believe the Judge could put specific people in contempt of court - but she has to 'cite' them that they have not followed her order. Would she do this? Only Judge Bennett knows for sure LOL.

2. Same as above.

3. Not sure other than my answer to 1. above.

I am personally hoping that since there is such a huge production of ordered documents that the delay is simply due to the mechanics involved. However . . . somewhere along that path there probably is a lot of redacting with large black pens going on from crown lawyers related to the confidential damning documents. This I know from experience.

Let us all hope Madame Justice Bennett keeps the train on the rails, for the citizens of BC & for her own reputation's sake.

Our society is in dire need of a deep cleanse, ethically.
 
N.B. Further to my comment above,

"The Assistant Deputy Minister in charge of the Criminal Justice Branch appoints the Special Prosecutors, Mr. Bob Gillen". . . .

. . . for the record: I do not believe that Mr. Gillen was the Assistant Deputy Minister at the time that Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino was appointed.
 
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earseyeswideopen,

Yes, according to what I've found, it was Robert Gillen, assistant deputy attorney-general, who appointed Bill Berardino.

And Bill Berardino was once a partner of the Attorney General, Geoff Plant, when they were at Russell & DuMoulin (now Fasken Martineau DuMoulin) so it doesn't really seem to fulfill the requirement for a Special Prosecutor who is unconnected to government.

I found this in information in: http://www.zoominfo/Search/PersonDetail.aspx?PersonID=417390580
 
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