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The Supreme Court of Canada heard arguments today in the case of Wood v. Schaeffer et al.  The case is summarized here and involves the police practice of having their notes vetted by legal counsel before releasing them to Ontario’s SIU, the body that investigates police conduct causing death or serious injury.  With any luck, Canada’s highest court will uphold the judgment of the Ontario Court of Appeal and put a stop to this practice.

The situation in British Columbia is similar, if not worse.  For example, when Jeffrey Berg was beaten and kicked to death by a Vancouver police officer in October of 2000, the homicide was investigated by his VPD colleagues.  The officer who killed Mr. Berg, along with the two other officers who were present when it happened, all visited the same lawyer after the incident, producing similar typed statements weeks later.  This deplorable practice has to stop if there is to be any measure of justice for the families of victims involved in these tragedies.

That is not to say there has been no improvement in this province.  We now have the Independent Investigation Office (IIO) so police-involved fatalities are no longer investigated by the police themselves.  The IIO has intervened in today’s appeal hearing, hoping that the Supreme Court’s decision establishes uniform national standards in this area.  We expect that judgment will be reserved and a decision rendered at a later date.

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In a recent CTV News story, BC’s Minister of Justice Shirley Bond told CTV’s Jon Woodward that “there is every intention to provide redress” to our client Ivan Henry.

Mr. Henry was acquitted of ten counts of sexual assault by the British Columbia Court of Appeal on October 27, 2010 after spending more than 27 years in jail. Mr. Justice Low of the Court of Appeal wrote:

” The process of identification was polluted so as to render in-court identification of the appellant on each count highly questionable and unreliable on the reasonable doubt standard. I consider the verdicts to be unsafe.
In my opinion, the verdict on each count was not one that a properly instructed jury acting judicially could reasonably have rendered.”
The government paid nothing to Mr. Henry to compensate him for his wrongful conviction. Consequently, on June 28, 2011 we filed a Notice of Civil Claim in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, naming the Attorneys General of BC and Canada as defendants, as well as the Vancouver police who had been involved in the investigation of the crimes. At a case management conference on January 22, 2013, Mr. Justice Goepel directed that the civil trial, estimated to last 12 weeks, would commence September 8, 2014.

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More than a half a million Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medals were minted to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the monarch’s reign, with 60,000 of those handed out to deserving Canadians.  If you weren’t one of the worthy recipients, not to worry.  At least nine are being offered for sale on eBay today by an Ottawa area retailer called “Militaria Express”.  There is no indication whether any of the trinkets came from disgraced Sen. Patrick Brazeau’s personal allotment. 

Each Canadian Senator and MP was given 30 medals to distribute as he or she saw fit.  The rest, almost 50,000 in total, were delivered to others to allocate, including the Canadian Forces (11,000), the RCMP (2,300), municipalities (4,000) and various non-governmental organizations (10,000).  These NGOs include the Monarchist League of Canada, REAL Women of Canada and the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, to name but a few.

I don’t always find myself in agreement with Toronto Sun columnist Warren Kinsella, but it is hard to dispute his recent assessment that the award process is a “fiasco”, a “joke”, a “disgrace” and a “scandal…deserving of further investigation”.

If you really want one of these baubles, I suggest waiting awhile…the current $180 asking price on eBay may well come down.

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The criminal trial of five men accused of murder, rape and kidnapping in a notorious case began today in New Delhi.  It is noteworthy that less than two months have elapsed since the horrific incident, which occurred on December 16, 2012.  A similar case here in British Columbia would take at least two years, not two months, to get to trial.

Our criminal justice system isn’t necessarily better than India’s, but it certainly is slower.

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The Police Complaint Commissioner’s appeal of the lower court decision quashing a public hearing into the complaint concerning the conduct of two Vancouver police officers begins today.  VPD constables Nicholas Florkow and Bryan London were responding to a complaint in the early morning hours of January 21, 2010 when they went to the wrong address.  They awakened resident Yao Wei Wu, then 44, from his slumber and badly injured him after he opened the door.  We acted as counsel for Mr. Wu in his civil action for damages for assault and battery, which was settled last year just before it went to trial.  However, we are playing no role in the current proceedings, as it has been established that the complainant (victim) in such cases has no standing to enable counsel to participate in the hearing on his or her behalf.

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