Monday, August 17, 2009

 

CKNW says Bennett "bows out" of the BC Rail Case

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No, no, no, no, no ... say it isn't so!!


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New Judge needed for the Basi Virk BC Rail Case
The Province - Aug 17, 2009 at noon

VANCOUVER - B.C. Justice Elizabeth Bennett has confirmed that a new judge must be appointed to hear the corruption trial of three former Liberal ministerial assistants.

She said that the trial involving the raid on the Legislature had not actually begun, she had heard no evidence and that she was required to take up her new duties on the Court of Appeal.

Appointed to the province's highest bench in May, Bennett said she would continue handling some pretrial issues in the case but that a new judge would take over this fall.

Bennett said she did not expect the actual trial to begin for about a year.

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%&*#$@blub*&+##@!!!

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Judge in B.C. legislature raid case leaving trial

The Canadian Press- August 17, 2009

VANCOUVER -- The judge who has been overseeing the lengthy legal proceedings in a case that began with a raid of the B.C. legislature won't be handling the trial.

{Snip} ...

Bennett has announced she will recuse herself from the case, and a new judge will take over after several outstanding issues are taken care of.

She says a trial is still a year away, and stepping aside now won't prejudice the case.

Bennett says she has outlined a game plan for all sides to bring the new judge up to speed.

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More from Keith Fraser today at The Province:

BC Rail case to get new judge; e-mail explanations begin

B.C. Supreme Court Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett, who has been hearing pre-trial applications in the case for more than three years, on Monday announced she would be stepping aside.

The defence had applied to have Bennett, who was recently appointed to the B.C. Court of Appeal, to continue on as the trial judge. Special prosecutor Bill Berardino wanted a new judge.

But Bennett said she was unable to carry on because she had not yet heard any evidence except the brief testimony of one witness. She said the decision to recuse herself would not impact the fair-trial rights of the three former government aides accused in the corruption case.

“We’re disappointed to lose our trial judge after three and a half years,” Michael Bolton, a lawyer for accused David Basi, said outside court.

“It’s not an unexpected result and we’ll move on.”

The judge, who will continue to hear current motions that are before the court, also agreed to an adjournment of a defence application for the records of B.C. Liberal Party insider Patrick Kinsella that relate to the controversial $1 billion sale of B.C. Rail.

The judge has already said that several dozen B.C. Rail documents that mention Kinsella are likely relevant to the defence. Now the defence wants Kinsella’s own personal records and e-mails.

New documents recently were revealed and Kinsella’s lawyer, James Sullivan, told the judge he needed time to review the material before the application could be heard.

Sullivan said he also needed time to review a new application by the defence to subpoena and cross-examine his client.

Bolton and the lawyers for two of the accused, Bobby Virk and Aneal Basi, opposed the adjournment, saying there was nothing really new in the material that has come forward.

The defence says that the Kinsella e-mails being sought go to the heart of their claims that the sale of B.C. Rail was rigged, and that their clients were tasked to give the auction a veneer of legitimacy.

The case broke for lunch Monday with a lawyer for the executive branch of the government beginning his explanation for what happened to e-mails that have apparently gone missing from Premier Gordon Campbell and his cabinet ministers. George Copley’s submissions are to resume in the afternoon.

{Snip} ...

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Judge Steps down in BC Corruption Trial
Rod Mickleburgh
The Globe and Mail - August 17, 2009

Judge Elizabeth Bennett is stepping down as the trial judge in the long-running political corruption trial involving former executive assistants to provincial Liberal cabinet ministers.

Judge Bennett was appointed the B.C. Court of Appeal earlier this year and told lawyers Monday that she cannot handle both obligations, with the corruption case expected to last at least another year.

She said she did not believe the fair trial rights of the defendants would be jeopardized by the appointment of a new trial judge.

“We're disappointed to lose our trial judge after three-and-a-half years but it's not an unexpected result and we'll move on,” Michael Bolton, Dave Basi's lawyer, said outside court.

“Her familiarity with the case was extremely good and there's always the issue of re-educating a new judge on the issues.”

Mr. Bolton rejected any suggestion the defence's stream of disclosure applications was responsible for the case dragging on almost six years since police first raided legislature offices in December 2003.

“The story of this case is the failure of disclosure and the need to ensure that all the material is gathered so that the accused can get a fair trial,” he said.

“That process has taken a lot longer than we expected.”

Mr. Bolton said defence disclosure requests continue to yield documents that are likely relevant and should have been available from the beginning. {Snip} ...

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New judge needed for Basi-Virk BC Rail case

By Ian Mulgrew
Vancouver Sun - August 17, 2009

VANCOUVER - The long-running corruption trial over the sale of BC Rail assets that sparked the 2003 raid on the Legislature has hit another snag and more testy arguments over the disclosure of government documents.

Justice Elizabeth Bennett confirmed Tuesday that a new judge must be appointed to hear allegations three former Liberal ministerial assistants provided confidential information to unsuccessful bidder, U.S.-based OmniTrax.

{Snip} ...

Justice Bennett will hear arguments Friday on whether the province's most influential eminence gris will be summoned to testify.

If she rules Kinsella must answer the questions about his involvement, expect an appeal all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada on that issue too.


This is a long column with lots of detail. Ian Mulgrew also advises that the next pre-trial hearing is scheduled for Friday August 21. [Error: Today, Aug 18, as usual I checked the court listing. The Basi Virk Basi listing was there. I'd like to know how people keep informed of these things.] - BC Mary.

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Some missing documents recovered, court told.

The Canadian Press - Aug. 17, 2009

Some potentially relevant internal government e-mails in the BC Rail corruption case that were said to have been erased have been recovered, government lawyer George Copley told B.C. Supreme Court yesterday.

The case of the missing documents made headlines when it was disclosed that four years of B.C. cabinet e-mails between 2001 and 2005 might have been wiped out, much to the anguish of defence lawyers who contend their clients, charged with fraud and breach of trust in connection with the sale of BC Rail, were acting on government instructions.

But Mr. Copley said a search of backup tapes from e-mail servers has turned up 97 that could be relevant to current proceedings. In addition, 48,000 more documents have also been recovered. However, they have not yet been analyzed for relevancy, he said.

The tapes go back only until December, 2004, a year after the BC Rail deal was completed and police raided the legislative offices of David Basi and Bob Virk, two of the accused in the complex case.

“The most relevant periods are missing,” defence lawyer Michael Bolton complained outside court.

Mr. Copley added that a search of Premier Gordon Campbell's active computers in Victoria and Vancouver, along with those of chief of staff Martyn Brown, turned up no BC Rail references.
[Cough .... !]

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Gary Mason for The Globe and Mail, August 17, 2009:


Two key rulings left for judge exiting BC Rail case

Elizabeth Bennett to rule on the relevance of thousands of potentially embarrassing and politically damaging e-mails from B.C. cabinet ministers


Before she steps away from the corruption trial stemming from the raid on the B.C. Legislature nearly six years ago, Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett will likely make a couple of key rulings. Ones, depending on how she decides, that could create panic, or at least a great deal of unease, at some of the highest levels of the B.C. government.

Including the Premier's office.

Judge Bennett announced Monday that she will soon recuse herself from the case she has overseen for 31/2 years to take up a position with the B.C. Court of Appeal, to which she was promoted earlier this year. The defence in the so-called Basi-Virk trial had urged her to see the case through to its conclusion, given her familiarity with the arcane and complex nature of many of its aspects.

The Crown, meantime, urged her to go. And why wouldn't it? A panoply of pretrial rulings by the judge has gone in favour of the defence. In the end, however, Judge Bennett felt that bringing in a new judge would not compromise the ability of the accused to get a fair trial, so off she will soon go.

But before she does, Judge Bennett will likely rule on two important matters: the relevance of thousands of potentially embarrassing and politically damaging e-mails from B.C. cabinet ministers and government MLAs, past and present, and whether a former political operative and friend of Premier Gordon Campbell should be questioned regarding the role he might have played in the BC Rail sale scandal.

Three former political aides in Mr. Campbell's government face an array of fraud, breach of trust and corruption charges related to the November, 2003, sale of the rail line. Two of the accused, Dave Basi and Bob Virk, have been charged with leaking information in exchange for cash and other gifts. The defence maintains the sale to Canadian National was rigged from the beginning.

Which is where former Liberal campaign director Patrick Kinsella comes in.

Mr. Kinsella is one of the most prominent political strategists in Canadian history. He's managed political campaigns at both the federal and provincial level right across the country – including the stunning electoral win by the B.C. Liberals back in 2001 that reduced the New Democratic Party to two seats.

It was recently revealed that shortly after the election Mr. Kinsella was put on the payroll of BC Rail and paid nearly $300,000 for unspecified consulting work between 2002 and 2005. The defence has alleged that he was working for CN Rail at the same time.

In other words, throughout the public auction for the provincial rail line, he was working for the seller and the successful bidder – while maintaining a direct pipeline to the Premier's office the entire time.

Or so the defence maintains.

Mr. Kinsella has declined to answer questions about the role he may have been playing with CN or whether he was even employed by the rail company to give strategic advice related to the BC Rail sale. CN has not answered questions either.

This is interesting. Because when I heard that Mr. Kinsella was working for the financial institution connected to the proposed sale of another part of BC Rail's holdings in 2004, I phoned his lawyer, James Sullivan, to get it confirmed. Mr. Sullivan said Mr. Kinsella denied working for TD Securities in connection with the ultimately aborted sale of the BC Rail spur line.

So, why wouldn't he deny working for CN in the sale of BC Rail if it wasn't true?

The defence wants to put Mr. Kinsella on the stand to ask him directly about the matter. It believes that through questioning it will be revealed that Mr. Kinsella was the linchpin in the sale the three accused insist was politically fixed in favour of CN.

And that that is the real scandal here.

To whet the judge's appetite, the defence read aloud a 2004 e-mail from Kevin Mahoney, president of BC Rail, to Chris Trumpy, then-deputy-minister in charge of the BC Rail sale. It concerns rumblings that CN Rail was not happy with some fine-print aspects of the deal that had been publicly announced but not yet formally signed.

In the e-mail, Mr. Mahoney says to Mr. Trumpy that he'll check “with Kinsella to see what he's been hearing,” about CN's concerns. A later e-mail refers to a conversation that Mr. Kinsella allegedly has with David McLean, chairman of CN, who outlined for him the concerns the company had about some of the tax implications of the proposed deal.

“Clearly there is a relationship between Mr. Kinsella and CN,” defence lawyer Kevin McCullough told the court.

If Judge Bennett agrees that Mr. Kinsella should answer questions under oath about any behind-the-scenes role he may have played in the sale, you can imagine the squirming that will be going on in Victoria.

And maybe in the witness box too.

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Nice work, Gary! Why do I have the feeling that with a few more forthright articles like this, the BC Rail Case would be seen moving more swiftly toward the Basi Virk Basi trial date. Thanks ... and thanks to all the hardworking journalists who covered today's pre-trial hearing. See ya again on Friday, I hope. - BC Mary.

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Krog speaks:

"Krog also noted that Copley hasn’t provided any answer to the question of who destroyed the electronic records."

Georgia Straight column is HERE.

Another Krog comment from Opposition headquarters is HERE:

The court heard yesterday that emails most likely to contain specific information about the sale were precisely the ones that have not been found.

“It strains belief,” said New Democrat MLA Leonard Krog, the opposition critic for the Attorney General. “Emails after the sale are available. But emails from the critical period immediately before the sale of B.C. Rail, precisely those most likely to contain relevant and damning information, cannot be found."


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Comments:
Looks like Mr. Kinsella, at least for the moment, is off the hook again as well.

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Well...this is about as bad as it gets. I fully expect this trial will now be nothing more than window dressing for the amusement of those poor suckers who actually believed in the judicial system.

If it's not thrown out from time constraint issues, that is.

Campbell must be popping the cork on the Champagne bottle.
 
Oh bloody h*ll.
 
I am going to leave it to Laila to fill everyone in on our morning's adventure.

One thing that came up today though - there was materials submitted that include a notebook of Brian Kiernan from 2003 - connecting Kinsella to CN Rail.

At one point, the judge asked Kiernan's first name (Brian) and then she said, oh, not Bruce. There's a Bruce mentioned here. Who is Bruce.

The defence responded that they THINK they know who Bruce is but the judge cut him off saying she didn't need to know right now.

So....Who's Bruce?

I will leave the rest to Laila and fill in on anything I may have picked up that she didn't.

GAB
 
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Thanks, G.A.B., glad to know you got to the Law Courts and home again ... via the new trolley?

Is there another BVB hearing tomorrow? Maybe we'll find out who "Bruce" is (I think he's the ubiquitous Australian whose name nobody else can pronounce prop'ly).

Gotta tell you, though, I felt as if I had been flung hard against a brick wall when I saw that first headline from CKNW that Bennett woud "bow out".

Jeez ... as "the public" we ask so very little. And that was one of the biggies because we've learned to trust Judge Bennett in this British Columbia sea of overwhelming doubt.

Would love to hear your impression of Elizabeth Bennett.

Thanks for keeping in touch. How are you feeling now?
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Is it just me, or is it odd that emails got erased about the same time Justice Bennet got the promotion. I'm not saying she isn't deserving of it, but given the levels of subterfuge and deception Gordon has shown he's capable of.....wouldn't a nice , new, 'green' judge be easier for him to manipulate, particularly with the missing emails?
 
Bruce...as in Bruce Clark?
 
Graham Bruce?.... Naw...
 
It is truly amazing isn't it? We have the most corrupt government ever in our history. With so much bad about them, (Drugs, money laundering, bribes to officials, lying to the public, overspending @ Olympics, raid on the Ledge, destroying e-mails, drinking once again, new young family, killing off seniors, highest child welfare / poverty rates in Canada, tearing up contracts, withholding information before the election. Etc). With the help from MSM, who are hiding the big stories, RCMP, who seem to be one sided in this matter, A judge and system been run around by government lawyers, a prosecutor that seems to be looking only at what gordo says for him to do. Maybe it’s time for a good old-fashioned tar and feathering? Any suggestions?
 
I, for one, cannot wait for Laila's report.

Because....

If what GAB had to say is the real deal (and I have no reason to believe, based on her long track record of telling us like it is when she attends events/public meetings), this is a potential bombshell!

(who the heck needs the proMedia!)

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Brad,

I must say that all kinds of things occurred to me in what I just called the British Columbia Sea of Doubt ...

and that doubt came first. Nobody gains as much as Gordo gains from removing Judge Bennett from this trial. But ...

the appointment is made by the Federal Minister of Justice (Rob Nicholson) and while some sort of "understanding" might be possible ... somehow, it suggests a network far bigger and more corrupt than I can accept ... at least, not yet.

But that doesn't mean that this situation seems entirely correct either. Madam Justice Bennett was doing a good job on a hugely important trial ... why did they risk that? Did the Eastern politicians simply not understand the situation?

I mean: the appointment could have stipulated that she fulfill current obligations and then step up to her new role. Did the Federal Justice dept. think she was just idling, wasting her time, and needed a REAL job??

Maybe we should send a few notes to Mr Nicholson.

I suppose it's too much to expect that we'd be given an explanation for this extremely disappointing turn of events. But dammit, why not? it really didn't have to be this way.


Lynx:

Of course, Bruce Clark. Ha!
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Gazetteer,

Too right ... there's been no mention so far in Big Media about "Who is Bruce?"

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Bennett is leaving.

I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so.
 
About two and a half years ago, in 2007, Robin asked this question. It remains a good one:

"But that is not to be – at least not yet. What, you might ask, is the role of Madam Justice Bennett in this pre-trial called a trial of people who may not be the most important wrong-doers (or wrong-doers at all!) connected to the rotten sell-off of BC Rail? The endless delay that was called “pre-trial hearings” has now been transformed into what is now (incorrectly) called a “trial”. What does that mean? More cover-up? And what is the role of Madam Justice Bennett in what I call this charade, this non-trial, this entertainment for the corrupt private corporate press?

That is a question that will not go away."
 
While we wait for Laila's EyeWitness report...

There is a teeny-tiny bit of info about the missing Emails buried in the update from Ian Mulgrew in the VSun.

Details at my place here.

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Mr. Mulgrew also reports that the hearings will resume Friday....

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I guess I know where I will be spending my Friday.

GAB
 
Hoorayyy, GAB !!

Get your pencils sharpened ... they do allow pencils, don't they? But not laptops or recording devices?

My eyes will be on the INcoming mailbox ...
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Bruce Clark

Another of the people integrally linked to the legislature raid who is also still a Liberal Party of Canada in B.C. executive member. Clark is brother to Christy Clark, brother-in-law to Mark Marissen and a former top Paul Martin fundraiser

Source: http://thetyee.ca/Views/2006/11/30/Liberals/
 
Mr. Mason's latest is up.

He wants to know why Mr. Kinsella won't just answer the darned question....


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Oh and I've.....

Left a comment at Mr. Mason's place about Ms. McPhail's questioning of Mr. Campbell about Mr. Kinsella from way back in 2003....feel free to head over there and have a gander (and bang the gong, yay or nay, for a recommend if you so choose).

Mason's piece is here.

I have a little to say about it at my place, here, as well.

RossK

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Surpise! Surprise! The most relevant emails are gone...so they say. Did they check ALL EDS servers? I doubt it.

Once the trial of B-V-B is over, the trial of the Campbell government for dereliction of duty, obstruction of justice must begin.

It's up to us to make sure that happens because you know the law won't take it upon themselves to right this wrong...that would be the honorable thing to do.
 
i told you so, Bennett leaves. and who can blame her? This dog has fleas and it will likely never go to trial as it continues to be bogged down by resistance after resistance and who wants that lasting impression on their epitaph?
 
Well, StoneWally needs a job....
 
Bill Berardino is a coward! He has all the right cards to play, but he is a coward. He has stalled the case, I believe for his own good. Gordo's minions have got to him. He will be appointed a senate seat when this winds down. Lets not forget the RCMP, they are as equally as guilty. They dance to the tunes of fatass coleman, an old buddy. All I know if I had a partner that does drugs, drinks to much, lies to much, sells off our inventory, tears of contracts, etc, I would not have this person as a partner for long. Is there anyone out there that can tell the truth and get the mess rolling towards an end?
 
Just a thought in the course of my wiki-editing adventures - wouldn't it be nice if the Raging Grannies came up with a rousing chorus or two to liven up these proceedings? Ladies, are you out there?

BTW Mary did you not get my post of earlier this morning? Or was there something unwanted in it? Can't think what, unfortunately, in case it's evaporated into the info-ether, I didn't save a copy....
 
Maybe the partnership has changed? Like a long time ago? Even?
 
Look on the bright side folks, Madame Justice Bennett moves up from the BC Supreme Court to the Appeal Courts where she might be given the responsibility of being the deciding factor on an appeal....in the BC Rail trial.

The appeal might come from the defendant who lost or the Crown that lost.

But, of course the Attorney General of British Columbia won't allow the Special Prosecutor to proceed.
 
I propose we start a lottery on whom will be the next pre-trial/trial judge.

For those wondering just who is eligible, I suppose it would come down to knowing who is available and who isn't. Its not simply a matter of looking at the list of 102 Judges and grabbing a dart and throwing it at the list. There's one consideration above all others and that is the Judge HAS to reside in the area where the trial is taking place (with the permission of the Attorney General of British Columbia).

I spent about an hour tonight looking for the list:

http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/supreme_court/about_the_supreme_court/judges_and_masters_of_the_supreme_court.aspx

And if you're curious as to know what the current status is of our pre-trial Judge is:

"Former Justices (since 1996)

Madam Justice Elizabeth A. Bennett

•1997 - 2009"
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SNIP......
"(8) Each judge must, as soon as practicable after being appointed, reside at the place or within the area approved in writing by the Chief Justice.

(9) Before giving approval under subsection (8), the Chief Justice must consult with the Attorney General.

(10) A judge must not move his or her residence from the place or area referred to in subsection (8) unless

(a) the judge consents to the move, and

(b) the Chief Justice approves of the move.

(11) Before giving approval under subsection (10), the Chief Justice must consult with the Attorney General."

Source: http://www.bclaws.ca/Recon/document/freeside/--%20S%20--/Supreme%20Court%20Act%20%20RSBC%201996%20%20c.%20443/00_96443_01.xml

"This Act is current to August 5th, 2009

Supreme Court Act

**********************

Okay, Okay, here's the list by location (Vancouver):

http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/supreme_court/about_the_supreme_court/judges_and_masters_of_the_supreme_court.aspx#

Madam Justice Elaine J. Adair
Madam Justice Marion J. Allan
Madam Justice Wendy G. Baker
Madam Justice Sandra K. Ballance
Madam Justice Mary-Ellen Boyd
Madam Justice Brenda Brown
Mr. Justice Grant D. Burnyeat
Mr. Justice G. Bruce Butler
Mr. Justice Bruce I. Cohen
Mr. Justice Frank W. Cole
Mr. Justice Austin F. Cullen
Mr. Justice Victor R. Curtis
Madam Justice D. Jane Dardi
Mr. Justice Barry M. Davies
Madam Justice Gail Dickson
Madam Justice Janice R. Dillon
Mr. Justice William Ehrcke
Madam Justice Lauri Ann Fenlon
Madam Justice Barbara Fisher
Madam Justice Laura B. Gerow
Madam Justice Kirsti M. Gill
Mr. Justice R.B.T. Goepel
Mr. Justice J. Christopher Grauer
Madam Justice Victoria Gray
Mr. Justice Bruce M. Greyell
Madam Justice Susan A. Griffin
Mr. Justice Joel R. Groves
Mr. Justice Christopher E. Hinkson
Madam Justice Heather J. Holmes
Mr. Justice Ronald R. Holmes
Madam Justice Mary A. Humphries
Mr. Justice Stephen F. Kelleher
Mr. Justice Peter D. Leask
Madam Justice Linda A. Loo
Madam Justice Anne W. MacKenzie
Mr. Justice David M. Masuhara
Madam Justice Nancy E. Morrison
Mr. Justice Elliott M. Myers
Mr. Justice Paul J. Pearlman
Mr. Justice Ian H. Pitfield
Mr. Justice Bruce M. Preston
Mr. Justice Eric Rice
Mr. Justice Selwyn R. Romilly
Madam Justice Carol J. Ross
Madam Justice Loryl D. Russell
Madam Justice Deborah Satanove
Mr. Justice John E.D. Savage
Mr. Justice W. B. Scarth
Mr. Justice Robert J. Sewell
Mr. Justice Jon S. Sigurdson
Mr. Justice Arne H. Silverman
Madam Justice Janet A. Sinclair Prowse
Mr. Justice Harry A. Slade
Mr. Justice William B. Smart
Madam Justice C. Lynn Smith
Mr. Justice Nathan H. Smith
Mr. Justice Allan M. Stewart
Madam Justice Sunni S. Stromberg-Stein
Mr. Peter G. Voith
Mr. Justice Paul W. Walker
Mr. Justice Terrance P. Warren
Madam Justice Catherine A. Wedge
Mr. Justice Peter M. Willcock
Mr. Justice Randall S.K. Wong
 
Madam Justice Elaine J. Adair Hmmmmm
she is, was???, a Partner at Clark Wilson. So too is Lyall Knott, as a Senior Partner, that is at Wilson Clark..... so I guess we can cross Madam Justice Elaine J. Adair off the list of being a replacement for Madame Justice Elizabeth Bennett when Mr. Knott is supposed to be a Witness...so says Mr. T on his "A to Z".

63 more to go.

I wonder how many judges have at one time or another worked for the Provincial government, or been associated with the BC Liberals as members, that might be of concern to the defense lawyers.

Change of venue?
 
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