Tuesday, May 18, 2010

 

The BC Rail Trial has begun ... really!

The most significant trial in British Columbia history was not included in today's BC Supreme Court listings ... but according to the news headlines, the judge and lawyers met at 9:15 AM in Courtroom 54 ... and


the trial began at 10:00 AM, just 24 hours later than expected. So here we go:
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National News
Lawyer in B.C. corruption trial warned by judge he'll be kicked out


The Canadian Press,  CHQR - May 18, 2010
Story HERE.
http://www.am770chqr.com/News/National/Article.aspx?id=213123


VANCOUVER - A corruption trial connected to a raid on the B.C. legislature started off with threats from the judge to eject a lawyer for one of three former government aides facing fraud, breach of trust and money laundering charges.  {Snip} ...

Kevin McCullough interrupted when Berardino told the jury he will show that Virk and Dave Basi received money, trips to the United States to attend NFL games, restaurant meals and job opportunities in exchange for confidential documents they gave to a lobbying firm.

Victoria company Pilothouse was working for Denver-based OmniTrax, one of the bidders for B.C. Rail.

B.C. Supreme Court Judge Anne MacKenzie told McCullough that the opening statement was proper and that if he interrupted again a sheriff would have to take him out of the courtroom.

When McCullough interjected a second time the judge said she would have him removed if he stood up again.
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Basi-Virk trial kicks off with judge admonishing defence lawyer

By Keith Fraser
The Province - May 18, 2010
Story with photo HERE.

http://www.theprovince.com/news/Basi+Virk+trial+kicks+with+judge+admonishing+defence+lawyer/3042928/story.html#ixzz0oJkimENS


The Crown's opening in the Basi-Virk case was interrupted several times by a lawyer representing one of the accused, prompting the judge to threaten to eject the defence lawyer.

Shortly after special prosecutor Bill Berardino began giving his opening, Kevin McCullough, a lawyer for accused Bobby Virk, stood up and told B.C. Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie that Berardino's comments were argument and not proper.

But the judge said there was nothing wrong with Berardino's comments and admonished McCullough.

"Mr. McCullough, you will remain seated or you will be removed from the court by the sheriffs."

Berardino continued ... {Snip}

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 B.C. government aides given cash, football tickets for BC Rail secrets: Lawyer
 
By Neal Hall and Lori Culbert
Montreal Gazette, a division of CanWest,
Vancouver Sun -  May 18, 2010

VANCOUVER — ... {Snip} ... BC Rail, a former Crown corporation, was sold to CN Rail for $1 billion in 2004 in a controversial deal ...

Special prosecutor Bill Berandino [sic] told the 12 jurors that Pilothouse Communications, which represented OmniTRAX in the bidding, wrote $27,000 in cheques to Aneal Basi.

"Mr. Bornmann will testify that he made regular money payments to (Aneal) Basi," Berandino [sic] said.
He then deposited $25,000 into his cousin's bank account, Berandino [sic] said.
OmniTRAX also paid for about $20,000 in dinners for the men, gave them football tickets and helped them with job opportunities, he added.
The case spans the period April 2002-December 2003, when the B.C. government was trying to sell BC Rail.
During that time, Dave Basi was the assistant to then-finance minister Gary Collins and Virk worked for then-transportation minister Judith Reid.
Berandino [sic] said the Crown will call about 30 witnesses and use taped telephone conversations to prove the accused gave sensitive information — including first-round bidding numbers — to a BC Rail bidder.
Reid is expected to testify that Virk's job was to brief her on the sale of BC Rail, the court heard.
Another witness is expected to testify she gave the first round of bid numbers to Virk so he could provide them to Reid, Berandino [sic] said.
The jurors also will hear it was Basi's job to brief Collins on the sale ...

[After all these years, why would Neal Hall change the Crown Prosecutor's familiar name (Bill Berardino) to "Berandino"? Repeatedly? Should his accreditation (and recorder) be revoked? 
- BC Mary]

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Crown outlines case against two Basis, Virk

Mark Hume

The Globe and Mail - May 18, 2010

Vancouver — A long-awaited political corruption trial finally got under way in the Supreme Court of British Columbia on Tuesday with a moment of legal drama when the judge threatened to have a defence lawyer ejected.

When Kevin McCullough, a lawyer defending one of three former government employees, rose to interrupt the Crown’s opening remarks, Madam Justice Anne MacKenzie told him to sit down and be quiet.

“You will not argue,” she told Mr. McCullough, who is representing Bobby Virk. “You have improperly interrupted ... you will remain seated or you will be removed from the court by the Sheriff.

Mr. McCullough had risen to object to remarks being made by Special Prosecutor William Berardino, who leaned calmly on a lectern, facing the jury, as he read an outline of the Crown’s case from handwritten notes. {Snip} ...

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A very interesting observation by Skookum1:

MBrunswick said:
"In a way it really doesn't matter - BC Rail is long gone."

No, actually,  Transactions and contracts made under illegal circumstances are null and void.  This is partly why OmniTRAX doesn't own the Roberts Bank still-BCR line in fact.  Theoretically the whole sale of BC Rail could be reversed if the "right" (i.e. very wrong) circumstances are shown to have been the case. 

It's perturbing though that in the agreements, such as "we" have been able to see them, there are several clauses exempting/protecting CN from any legal action against them resulting from the sale, or from any legal problems arising from it.  That smacks of an illegal contract, and even unconstitutional in some ways - granting exemption from the Criminal Code to a corporate person - but like so much else in this case that the RCMP haven't investigated and that the Crown has not pursued charges on (like the deleted emails), nothing has been done about it. 

But I've always said - "if OmniTRAX paid 120,000 to come in fourth - what did CN pay to come in first?"

If THAT comes out in the trial, it points to the illegality of the contract as a whole (as if it weren't already illegal because of the legal-exemption clauses just explained) and the sale could be overturned.  What that would do to CN's stocks is an issue - but it's also their problem, if they diddled with the BC government deliberately.  They COULD claim they were being led, but by whom?  Too many elected officials were exempted from investigation, and only one man has seen everything that was seized from the Ledge; that would be former ACJ Dohm, who also transplanted his pick of judges into this case to get rid of the one who was ordering opened too many of those boxes.....

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And another interesting point, by Anonymous:

One thing no one has picked up on is that in his opening statements to the jury, Berardino told them that Bornman had an immunity agreement. Several years back when defense asked to see Bornman's immunity agreement,the Crown claimed he didn't have one. Check your archives from 2007 about this one Mary. It would appear that the prosecution mislead the court during the pretrial.

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Comments:
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601082&sid=aNWFEkvM9TNY
 
Maybe, Mary, Neal Hall made an 'error of fact'. Of course, it is kind of hard to believe that a 'working journalist' of his extensive experience, long training and high salary would make such an egregious error let alone fail to catch it before publishing it (online or otherwise).

Now, if Neal Hall were NOT A PAID JOURNALIST but merely a lowly 'blogger' then the slip ups would not have been so hard to understand.

You think?

An aphorism seems apt at this juncture...something about people in glass houses throwing stones.

As for the warning(s) from the judge, that's strange too.

Mr. McCullough knows the opening statement is pro forma and not subject to interjection - he must have decided to interject, and object, TWICE, for carefully considered reasons.

Either that, or he's not much of a trial lawyer.

You decide.
 
the issue was how berardino was dealing with the opening. Why did he need to have a 1 hour opening?

Nice to see PAB guys working the room.

Martyn Brown was in attendence and began giving testimony.
 
One thing no one has picked up on is that in his opening statements to the jury, Berardino told them that Bornman had an immunity agreement. Several years back when defense asked to see Bornman's immunity agreement,the Crown claimed he didn't have one. Check your archives from 2007 about this one Mary. It would appear that the prosecution mislead the court during the pretrial.
 
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