Tuesday, January 15, 2008

 

BC Rail sale trial delayed two more weeks

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The defence is still trying to obtain 17 documents that government won't disclose by citing solicitor-client privilege
Neal Hall
The Vancouver Sun - Monday, January 14, 2008

VANCOUVER - The pre-trial proceedings involving three former B.C. government aides accused of corruption has been adjourned until Jan. 28.

The matter was briefly in court Monday, when B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett ordered the special prosecutor to respond by Friday [Jan. 18?] to a defence request concerning documents related to the controversial privatization of the freight division of BC Rail, which was sold in 2003 to Canadian National Railway.

The defence is still trying to obtain 17 documents that government lawyer George Copley asserted should not be disclosed because of solicitor-client privilege. The defence position is the documents should be disclosed because the judge has found that they were relevant to the case.

The trial was scheduled to begin in 2005 but has been adjourned more than half a dozen times because of pre-trial disclosure problems. The new trial date is March 17.

The judge said Monday she is prepared to "sit as long as we need to" on Jan. 28 and 29 to resolve all the disclosure issues before the trial starts. {Snip} ...

MLA Leonard Krog, the New Democrat's attorney general critic, said outside court Monday that the government should disclose the 17 documents sought by the defence. Some of the documents are believed to be legal opinions concerning the sale of BC Rail operations.

"The government's position asserting solicitor-client privilege I don't find acceptable," he said.

"The taxpayers paid for those legal opinions. Claiming solicitor-client privilege is ridiculous at this stage."

nhall@png.canwest.com

http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/story.html?id=c62063d6-18c5-4027-9d2b-328d7949247e&k=86874

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Bill Tieleman:


Basi-Virk delayed yet again - until January 28


In an all-too familiar move, the pre-trial hearing on the BC Legislature Raid case has been adjourned yet again - this time until January 28.

I was unable to attend BC Supreme Court at 10 a.m. but the session was so short that there wouldn't be much more to report here even if I did.

The Vancouver Sun's Neal Hall was there and reports that Justice Elizabeth Bennett gave Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino until this Friday to respond to a defence request regarding documents connected to the BC Rail privatization.

Hall says Bennett told the defence and Crown she is prepared to sit "as long as we need to" on January 28 and 29 to resolve disclosure issues.

The trial is scheduled to begin on March 17 but an appeal by the Special Prosecutor over Bennett's ruling that the defence could be in court to hear testimony from a secret witness could - guess - delay it again.

Read more at http://billtieleman.blogspot.com/

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Comments:
Hi Mary - I've just learned that the BC Supreme Court session will begin at 9 a.m., not the usual 10 a.m., and may go late as well.

Justice Bennett is apparently intent on resolving the disclosure issues in this two-day session.
 
Bill:

Many thanks for the time, place, and agenda.

Fervent are our prayers that Judge Bennett will succeed in winning proper disclosure on January 28 and 29.

And then, the way I read Neal Hall's report, it also sounds as if Judge Bennett expects the Prosecution team to respond to something -- perhaps the 17 page document? -- by "Friday" which I read to mean the end of this week Friday Jan. 18.


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I think you are correct on the date of the response Mary. But how are they to respond. Do they tell the defense that they aren,t going to disclose the documents? Or do they disclose them or partially disclose (white-out portions) them? I am sure it's the 17 documents. It also goes on to say she is prepared to "sit as long as we need to" which tells me that they won't leave court until the matter (disclosure) is resolved.
The problem here as I see it is that the prosecutor (or heaven forbid the government suits) in the past has usually come up with a new angle to stall the matter. As we saw recently with the secret witness problem. How much time did that take? And they used a brand new SCC decision only weeks old. No, I'm fairly confident that by now there is a new stall in the works.
 
Couldn't Madame Justice Bennett just put the secret witnesses into the fabled 'witness protection program' - alter their voices or put bags over their heads?

Let's get on with it. Set up the chairs and bring on the trial.

Further delay plays into the hands of the man who really has some questions to answer...Gordon Campbell.
 
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