Monday, February 18, 2008

 

BC RAIL SCANDAL

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In Courtroom 65, B.C. Supreme Court,
Feb. 18, 08.
The BC Rail Scandal.


By Robin Mathews

Three pieces of arresting news came out of the short (45 minute) hearing this morning in Courtroom 65.

8 counsel in attendance. About 8 in the gallery.

A schedule of meetings (hearings) taking the pre-trial activities into June was laid out by Special Crown Prosecutor, William Berardino. (I refer readers back to my very recent piece: "Canada. Justice in Decay?" It is relevant to today's hearing.) Berardino's schedule involves, mostly, the attempt to get materials form cabinet, BC Rail, RCMP, etc. Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett, we seem to remember, made a strong statement that the trial would begin on March 17. Disclosure and other disruptions and delays will continue, now, into June, at least. Ummmm. Ummmm.

Outside the courtroom later, I asked Michael Bolton, Defence counsel, if trial could be considered without disclosure completed. He reaffirmed the fundamental principle that trial could not proceed until all matters of disclosure are attended to.

Inside the courtroom, on special phone connection, counsel for the Defence, Kevin McCullough interjected into William Berardino's schedule to insist the Crown is delaying disclosure; for instance, that it has not completely disclosed what Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett ordered disclosed on January 29. And that some of the disclosures engaged in by George Copley have too strict conditions imposed upon them. In addition, George Copley, counsel-with-standing for the Gordon Campbell cabinet is still balancing his highly questionable 'points of privilege' on the head of a pin.

(British Columbia's coast was so wrapped in cloud this morning that Kevin McCullough was, apparently, up in the air before his flight turned back to Victoria and gave up. If he had been present, he might still have believed he was still up in the air - in relation to progress on the BC Rail Scandal matters.)

We are to believe now that the progress made on the Government of British Columbia revealing the way it has conducted business for the People of British Columbia is being blocked on a basis of solicitor/client privilege, not cabinet privilege. Perhaps that basis makes it look a little less as if Gordon Campbell himself is giving directions on the matter....

Outside the courtroom, Mr. Bolton discussed the applications that are to come up, maybe in March, from Defence - a Charter application, and an application on the improper use of wiretaps, on the legitimacy of Search Warrants, and on abuse of process. I commented directly that they could, couldn't they? mean the end of the whole matter. Mr. Bolton remarked that they were very serious applications. (One must never forget - in the fencing between Special Crown Prosecutor and Defence to reveal the extent (if any) of cabinet member [and other uncharged persons] implication in what may be proved to be criminal acts, Defence is seeking first (and must do so) to defend its clients. That is to say that if Defence could bring the processes to an end because of improper legal actions by the Crown, Defence would have a responsibility to do so.

As I have commented in the past, everyone is represented in the hearings but the People of British Columbia whose Railway was stolen from them, sold secretly, against their wishes, and perhaps involving criminal actions.

Madam Justice Bennett informed counsel that an application has been made to release to the public the application for disclosure of a wide-ranging set of documents of January 4, 08, by the Defence. She canvassed counsel - all of whom agreed to release the January 4, Defence Application for Disclosure. As I write, the Application is being readied for release to the public, it not being completed for issuance at Eleven this morning.

Following the hearing, Mr. Bolton made himself available to questioners. If I do not describe the situation imperfectly, I would say the Special Crown Prosecution team and Mr. Copley made their way out as if to keep urgent appointments elsewhere.

Next hearing date - if I got it right amidst the tumble of dates discussed - is March 11 at nine a.m.

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Your eye-witness report is greatly appreciated, Robin. - BC Mary.

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Bill Tieleman has left a new comment:

To clarify between Robin's report and my own - there will be a short update hearing on March 11 but the major pre-trial hearings on the BC Rail document "vets" will not take place now until May 5.

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Comments:
"We are to believe now that the progress made on the Government of British Columbia revealing the way it has conducted business for the People of British Columbia is being blocked on a basis of solicitor/client privilege, not cabinet privilege. Perhaps that basis makes it look a little less as if Gordon Campbell himself is giving directions on the matter...."

Perhaps.

Then again, perhaps it is just a limited hangout that allows Mr. Campbell to move the Stonewall back a step when next required.

Regarding that wall....if the start of the trial is moved back to June does that not mean that the current sitting of the Legislature will be over by then?

Thanks Mr. Mathews.

(Eight in the gallery? How many media? Any public inforation officers offering you 'assistance'?)

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Thank you for your detailed report Robin.

Why doesn't anybody ask the Special Prosecutor and the Government lawyer any questions?

Aren't they all accountable to the people? Do we not have a right to ask questions?

Shame on them.
 
March 11, May 5, whatever, it seems as if nothing substantial will happen until the "secret" hearings matters are resolved in early June. However it seems to this observer that the time in the interim could still be used to comply with the many outstanding disclosure requests and orders.

But of course one would have thought those issues could have been dealt with in four years as well. I still get the feeling that in this case orders from the bench are something less than actual "orders." Maybe if Justice Bennett used the words "Pretty Please?"
 
Bennett has already stated that a couple of the e-mails could clarify conduct of the accused. If so, then they would have to be placed in evidence. A trial cannot proceed where potentially exculpatory evidence is excluded.

Please check out this opinion250 report on a Prince George judge's answer to Oppal's panderage to the lynch mob mentality, created by Canwest.

http://www.opinion250.com/blog/view/8438/1/5+years+for+thief%2c+blast++for+government

That's not news? Please fire off e-mails to Kirk Lapointe, Pat Graham and the rest of the complacent class, and tell them to report this important squabble. Or do Kirk and Pat want to protect Stonewally? The Sun-Province-TimesColonist are looking like bird-cage material.
 
gazatteer wrote:

"Regarding that wall....if the start of the trial is moved back to June does that not mean that the current sitting of the Legislature will be over by then?"

A 100% probability. But purely coincidental, no doubt. ;-) ( nudge, nudge, wink, wink).
 
Lynx your comment gave me an idea of how to predict the scheduling of this trial.

If one can check out when Gordo has reservations to fly to Maui, the trial is likely to start in the next few days. It is pretty clear that he doesn't like to answer questions in the Ledge inspired by events at Studio 54!

Or the mathematical formula, the farther away from Victoria the Campbell, the more likely the court would be to convene. Let's take up a collection and send him on a trade mission to Mongolia.

Of course for complete accuracy one needs to factor in election dates. Oh for a blackboard and some chalk.
 
There was some mention in court of a February 29th date, though I'm not sure if that was a court date or a deadline for something.
Btw, nobody asked Berardino any questions because he snuck out everyone was talking to Bolton.
 
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