Friday, April 23, 2010

 

Dohm steps down. Now what?

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This week's Friday afternoon surprise news announcement:  Associate Chief Justice of the BC Supreme Court, Patrick Dohm, has  resigned. At age 75, he has retired.

ACJ Dohm, behind the scenes, has played many a riveting role in BC history. In the BC Rail Case, it was he who signed off on the Search Warrants for the police raid on the offices of Dave Basi and Bobby Virk in the BC Legislature. Then it was Dohm  himself (apparently) who went through the 32 boxes of seized documents to decide which were "privileged" and couldn't be shown to the public.

At other times, ACJ Dohm took a starring role at centre stage ... such as in the dramatic and disturbing courtroom scene where he announced (almost over her head) the immediate removal of Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett from the BC Rail Case.Robin Mathews, in a letter to the BC Attorney General dated January 7, 2010, wrote about it as follows:


... The whole matter, in addition, fourthly, is complicated further in the method by which Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett was removed to be replaced - after three years of detailed hearings - by Madam Justice Anne MacKenzie on the Basi, Virk, and Basi matter.  On June 4, 2009, Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm appeared in court to hear an application by Mr. Berardino that Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett be removed in favour of a new (to be trial) judge.  I could not see a rational unfolding of meaning in that appearance.


Mr. Berardino argued that Mr. Dohm had the power to remove Madam Justice Bennett and to appoint a new judge.  Mr. Bolton for the Defence was of the opinion, expressed out of court in answer to questions, that Madam Justice Bennett had power over her situation – to stay or to leave. I never heard that difference resolved in discussion in the courtroom.


In court discussion the word “recused” was misused since Madam Justice Bennett had – in no way – any conflict of interest. 


Why then, I ask, did Mr. Berardino want her removed?


Mr. Dohm made statements revealing he believed he had power to remove Madam Justice Bennett and that he was going to assign the trial judge, but not now.  He said he knew who it was going to be.  But he would not name the replacement that day, he said, because he didn’t want to muddy the waters by appointing a trial judge while Madam Justice Bennett was still engaged with the matter of the case.


Mr. Berardino argued that Madam Justice Bennett couldn’t be in two places at once.  (She was recently raised to the Appeals Court.)  He also stated – as I understood him – that Defence had not been filing motions with all materials and all summaries of learned argument so the Prosecution could reply and respond.  He said that “we” have not been following that process in this case…. He seemed to imply that fact (if it was a fact, and I am reporting it correctly) indicated a failure on the part of Madam Justice Bennett. 


When Mr. McCullough rose to object, Mr. Dohm silenced him.  As I understand the process, no real argument on the motion happened or was permitted to happen.  Mr. Berardino seemed to me to be saying that one of the two reasons Madam Justice Bennett should be removed was that she was not assuring proper process in the hearings.  Mr. Dohm seemed happy to hear that said – and yet Madam Justice Bennett was promoted to the Appeals Court.  The hearing before Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm simply did not – to me – make sense.  I still cannot make sense of it.  And it was a very important hearing.


Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett was removed in fact (as far as I could understand the process) – as a fait accompli – on June 4, 2009 in a brief hearing that was more like a press conference in which Mr. Dohm announced the change.  To this observer, there was no doubt in either Mr. Berardino’s or Mr. Dohm’s mind that Madam Justice Bennett would go.


The potential for a perception of bias was presented without disguise, I believe, when Mr. Dohm stated he knew who the replacement would be and would announce the name later, without, in fact, hearing any significant argument against replacement. The whole event, to me, seemed “cooked up”.

Now Patrick Dohm is gone from BC Supreme Court. Today's story is outlined HERE. But Mr Dohm is well worth a few googles too.  

We must wonder: who will replace him? And what will it mean for the Basi-Virk trial beginning May 3, 2010?

Am I the only one who has sensed the presence of ACJ Patrick Dohm behind some of the actions of Madam Justice Anne MacKenzie -- presumably Dohm's  nominee for this job? - BC Mary.

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Comments:
Mary, you're definitely not the only one to sense ACJ Dohm over the shoulder of MJ MacKenzie. Though he has retired, I think it would be a mistake to assume he's not working in the background yet.

Once this case goes to appeal, by either defense, prosecution or the public...might we call Justice Dohm as a witness? Imagine...

Though retired, it's still worth it to watch all the players closely until the last song is sung...and the swallows come home to roost.
 
Certainly opens another can of worms..err.... snakes for sure.

Off topic but I don't know where to send this item. Northeast News April 22, 2010 "Farmers, local governments call for better rail service in the Peace"

A one pager that is by Matthew Bains about locals going to the Rail Service Review Panel which was set up by the federal MOT.

Kind of ironic that the worst service is occurring in the areas that refuse to send anything but a liberal to Victoria. Easier to complain than to elect an independent or ndp I guess.
Let me know how or where to post the entire article if anyone wants to see it or if you find it on the web.
 
Anon 3:55,

Many thanks for your rail news tip, always appreciated.

I was able to find Northeast News online ...

but couldn't find "Farmers, local governments call for better rail service in the Peace".

Could you give us the URL for that article? Then we can look it up.

Thanks again.
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Mr. Berardino seemed to me to be saying that one of the two reasons Madam Justice Bennett should be removed was that she was not assuring proper process in the hearings.

I'm sure Robin brought this up in his various critiques, or surely someone did, but it bears pointing out again that if she was doing such a piss-poor job "assuring proper process in the hearings" ''then WHY was she appointed to the Court of Appeals??'' Promotions are not usually granted for incompetence (except for politicians).

And if it's true that only one man, the same one who issued the sealed warrants, on foreign soil, was who decided what was "privileged" or not, that's very extraordinary privilege, isn't it? That justice boils down to one single man, Associate Chief Justice or not, who also has very evident links to the ruling clique whose interests and ways of doing things are what's at stake in these proceedings?

So what star chamber selected him to be Associate Chief Justice, and Keeper of the Seized Truths, and Dismisser of Seized Judges? There is no transparency in justice in this country any more than there is in the executive or legislative branches; "privilege" is invoked to protect personal interests, i.e. personal privilege....it's hard to imagine what in documents seized to do with the BC Rail/CN Rail case would be "privileged" and not for the petty eyes of mere mortals to review. What could be privileged information to do with the sale of a Crown asset? How could decision over what is privileged information be assigned to (or self-assigned by) the self-same justice who issued warrants which had to be issued not once, not twice, but three times -and only after their address had been concealed in print (even though he knew where they were for, so long as the warrants were not clear on that); and then ordered them kept secret.

Is this man a one-man judicial system? Who assigned him to do all these things? Justice Brenner? Who watches the watchers??

The partisan tone of decisions in the course of proceedings since Justice Mackenzie took over is clear to everybody; and indeed, to get that kind of behaviour is why Berardino lobbied to get her, or someone of her ilk/obedience appointed (though it's easy to conceive of a phone call "Hi Bill, it's Bill. Yeah, we'll get rid of her...who did you have in mind to take over?").

Any eventual inquiry into the complex wrongdoings of the BC Rail fiasco is going to investigate all this, y'know; how Justice Dohm took a self-appointed role as governor and intervenor in the case, and what social and political connections he may have had to the ruling party; and how Justice Mackenzie was appointed and by whom and with what directives. The stink of Ottawa's meddling is all over this, and probably includes the federal Grits as well as the federal Tories.

Secrets can be hidden only so long, unless they are willfully destroyed. And BTW it's forensically possible to recover "redacted" information if the original document still exists.....IF it still exists.

I"m thinking it might be worth looking into the history of Justice Dohm's court decisions as much as into his political ties......

You can recuse yourself from a case, and retire from a profession. But you can't hide from history, or from the ill-fame you may have earned from your part in it. The truth will find you out; if you had nothing to hide, then you should have hidden nothing.

It's fairly logical, isn't it? Not that either lawyers or justices operate by logic.
 
http://www.northeastnews.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=543:online-edition-april-22-2010&catid=3:northeast-news-archives&Itemid=6

page 12 of 13
 
The above link on page 12 is for

Northeast News,

"Farmers local governments call for better rail service in the Peace"


"Farmers and local government officials in the South Peace are not pleased with the quality of rail service offered by Canadian National.

Garnet Berge, area director for the BC Grain Produces Association, said he is part of a committee looking at transportation issues affecting farmers. He said they're concerned about what he said is the deterioration of the line between Dawson Creek and Chetwynd.

"We're getting a little worried that if (CN Rail) don't upgrade the line or keep it maintained from Dawson Creek to Chetwynd, that we might lose that, and if we do, we'll be trucking our grain to Rycroft or Spirit River, which we don't want to do," said Berge during the BC GPA annual general meeting back in February.

He said that rail is the most efficient and cost-effective way for farmers to ship their products, but there is no alternative besides CN and he said the service is poor." SNIP
 
E.M.,

A million thanks for your discovery:

E.M has left a new comment on your post "Farmers, local governments call for better rail se...":

This is BIG if You don't know about it, I just about screamed YIPEE!!!!!


but I think you will understand why I'm planning to hold it back until the Basi Virk trial gets underway

and there's no risk of it being any kind of influence on their fair trial.

I hadn't seen the Reasons for Judgment on this appeal myself, and thank you sincerely for your vigilance.

I hate all this secrecy ... but if it's a question of preventing the undue spillover from one trial to another, I think we'll be glad we waited.
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