Created on Sunday, 25 November 2007 11:11
Written by Robin Mathews
Pretrial Hearing Basi, Virk, and Basi:
Friday, November 23
by Robin Mathews
major explosion occurred today, and minor ones could be heard
underground. Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett worked scrupulously to
line up scheduling for December 3 and after.
Involved in some sort of
sequence are many parts - B.C. Rail materials, Justice Department
materials, further disclosure materials, boxes seized at the original
legislature (search warranted) raids, third party materials, the Bornmann
e-mails: some crossing over, some related, some possessing irrelevant
Courtroom 55 is a large room ... the setting for a historic pretrial BC Rail Hearing
30,000 new pages of disclosure material was received in the
last month, Michael Bolton, Defence lawyer said.
Two key matters emerged, to be dealt with a little later. In the meantime:
hinted - but only hinted - that the Special Crown Prosecutor, William
Berardino is [still] providing material inadequately and in a way that
might be construed as deliberately obstructive.
- Delays which
are laid at the feet of the Crown (while probably possessing substance)
are - I believe - largely the result of a presiding judge who has
failed (a) to call early for disclosure material, (b) to prepare the
way (with competent homework) to have materials in her care that
obviously will be needed in the process, (c) to insist upon prompt,
fully annotated, disclosure, attached to real deadline dates, and (d)
seriously, meaningfully to rap knuckles for failure to comply. Behind
all the wrangles that occur and have occurred in the case, is the judge
who acts more as a referee than the key person "seized" with the
In that regard the fact that January is out for
movement on the case because of the prior committments of actors
involved seems to this ordinary Canadian a little outrageous. That
fact, too, probably has to be placed at the door of the judge
As I have said before, this is not a case about
break and entry into a warehouse. It is a case bearing significantly on
the legitimacy of the government in power in the act of legislating for
the people of British Columbia. And if there is the slightest question
(and there is) that there may be or have been criminals among those who
legislate in the present government, all slates should be kept clear,
all attention should concentrate on the case, and pursuit of the issue
should not be delayed for any reason.
Those things explain, in large part, why the role of Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett must be figured in.
people who only hear about the matter from some kind of media source,
it might be interesting to know that courtroom 55 is a large room. Into
it came 10 lawyers - Defence and the Crown huddling for minutes before
the opening of the session, obviously trying to work out some
agreements about process. In the large gallery sat about eight people
to begin. No representative from the Attorney General's office, no
lawyer for ex-minister Collins, no NDP justice critic. Madam Justice
Bennett entered the courtroom at ten minutes past nine - and the hour
was taken up with the scheduling problems, mostly, to which I have
The two key matters: the first was almost incidental
to the discussion, but it was thrust into play. In the Bornmann
e-mails, in the B.C. Rail materials a shape of things (that should have
been plain much, much earlier) involving "the inner circle",
cabinet-connected figures, the "conduits" for information flow is
beginning to be seen. That may open matters of involvement by the the
directors of Basi, Virk, and Basi that the public has long wanted to
know about. Whether it will mean further charges must be laid is quite
another question. At this time.
The other key matter is the
information the Special Crown Prosecutor provided that he will be
asking for an in camera meeting with the judge - excluding not only
press and public but also the lawyers for the Defence. A most rare
Historically, such a request is only made if the
personal safety of a person or of persons is at threat. One must
stretch one's imagination hard to think who might be physically
endangered by information that the Defence, at least, shares, in
relation to the Basi, Virk, and Basi matters.
observer, moreover, a side aspect of the issue threw into highlight,
once again what I am led to feel frequently is the court's contempt for
Asked outside the courtroom about the nature of the
in camera application and whether the public and press would be able to
hear the argument of the Defence against being excluded, Mr. Berardino
(quite rightly) would not be drawn. The judge had said, "say nothing".
He was obeying.
Asked how press and public could learn whether they
could attend the argument, Mr. Berardino said they should consult
counsel (hire a lawyer to make representation for them.)
CanWest Monopoly Press
has counsel. But what about you and
I said that I believe the judge has an obligation (not a
choice) to inform the public well before the event whether they may be
present when the Defence presents its arguments against an in camera
meeting that excludes it.
In normal circumstances, in a
flourishing democracy, ordinary Canadians would know that their
champion and informant would be the judge presiding who would
aggressively care for their interests in the matter. The judge would
"represent" you and me, and think about the exclusion from the point of
view of our interest in being in the courtroom, particularly, and from
the point of view of the interests of Canadians at large. She would
hasten to tell the public if it is to be admitted or not.
long process has made very clear to me that we will be very lucky if
Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett weighs our role in any serious way. The
courts in Canada are increasingly a playground for the rich who play
their games before judges; and the 'people' get in the way of the games
the rich play.
thanks to you, Robin, for being our eyes and ears in Courtroom 55, and
for connecting the elements into something coherent; distresssing, but
coherent. A very large virtual bouquet to you, once again.
Prosecutor Bill Berardino dropped a bombshell in BC Supreme Court
Friday, telling Justice Elizabeth Bennett that he wants defence counsel
excluded from attending an application on whether secret witnesses
could testify in camera in the Basi-Virk trial.
Defence counsel for David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi appeared stunned by the submission by Berardino ...
Go to Bill Tieleman's
blog for his full report. Unbelievable!
don't think that I made this up, or that I deleted large chunks of this
following newz story; I didn't. This is the Vancouver Sun's entire coverage of this
stunning event in B.C. Supreme Court today:
BASI, VIRK PRE-TRIAL TAKES A TWIST
Special prosecutor requests in-camera hearing without defence lawyers
Friday, November 23, 2007
prosecutor Bill Berardino made a rare request for an in-camera hearing
where the defence lawyers are excluded at the pre-trial hearing in B.C.
Supreme Court for Bob Virk and Dave Basi.
B.C. Supreme Court
judge Elizabeth Bennet will hear submissions from the lawyers and
various news organizations Dec. 3 to determine whether or not to hold
the in-camera hearing.
Basi and Virk are former legislative assistants who are charged with supplying information about the B.C. Rail sale. - B.C. Mary]