‘We’re treating your body as a crime scene’ — Laporte trial notebook 2

(Winnipeg Law Courts/Winnipeg Sun File)

Editor’s note: This post contains foul language. 

“We’re treating your body as a crime scene.”

That’s what Peter Laporte was told while cuffed and being held at bay by three police officers in a third-floor interview room at the city’s Public Safety Building early on Nov. 24, 2008.

The comment was made by now-Det. Sgt. Mark Philippot of the Winnipeg Police Service, called to testify this week in Laporte’s ongoing sexual assault trial in Winnipeg.

Laporte has pleaded not guilty and is presumed innocent of all charges he currently faces.

Currently, the Crown and Laporte are locked in a high-stakes Charter rights-related battle over the admissibility of evidence gathered from penile swabs taken about five hours after his arrest at a Cumberland Avenue apartment block.

Laporte is arguing police stomped on his fundamental rights in how the swabs (a non-invasive procedure where cops use a wet and dry cotton swab to mop a suspect’s penis to gather evidence) were collected.

Philippot testified that after almost immediately after receiving information from child abuse investigators that a boy had disclosed been anally raped, it was his right to go in and get the swab samples.

“There’s no warrant required here,” Philippot said, explaining that in his experience, there’s no need for cops to get a warrant to take the samples, even if Laporte was unwilling to offer them as it’s considered incident to arrest.

One of the major issues Queen’s Bench Justice Perry Schulman will have to wrestle with is this: Laporte repeatedly requested (I’m being generous here, see below) to speak with a lawyer prior to the samples being taken, but cops didn’t comply.

Why is that? Don’t they have to? (Question is silently mine, sitting watching the proceedings)

According to Philippot, then a sex-crimes unit investigator (now homicide detective), the denial of Laporte’s “phone call” (to be cliche about it) had a lot to do with his demeanour and attitude.

A video of Laporte’s interactions with Philippot was played in court, starting from the time general patrol officers brought him into the interview room and put him on continuous video.

The video starts with a short haired, moustachioed Laporte, wearing a black T-shirt and shorts, being escorted into the room. “Do not kick,” he’s warned.

Earlier this week, we covered how cops viewed Laporte as combative and violent with them.

22:28 Nov 23, 2008: Philippot, not necessarily an imposing physical presence, enters the room.

“I’ve done nothing,” Laporte tells him.

“What’s your first name?” asks Philippot, trying to fill out a required prisoner’s log sheet that asks a number of questions of a suspect (it’s a matter of routine).

“I want to talk to my lawyer,” he’s told. Laporte moves to cradle his arms on the small table in front of him.

Philippot gets up and leaves for about an hour. The video is skipped ahead by Crown John Field.

 23:36: Laporte is seen lying on the floor of the interview room. Oddly, the sounds of Radiohead’s ‘Karma Police’ can be heard in the hallway outside the door. (cops play music so suspects can’t hear anything that’s going on in the office).

 ‘For a minute there, I lost myself, I lost myself,’ wails Thom Yorke.

The music ends.

In the process, Laporte gets up, gets back in the chair as Philippot re-enters the room, again, ostensibly to try and get the log sheet filled out. Laporte again requests to speak with a lawyer.

Philippot asks him the standard question: Are you part of a gang?

“Go fuck yourself,” says Laporte.

Philippot repeats the question, prompting anger to literally erupt out of Laporte.

“Look at me, take a good look at me you fucking piece of shit,” he barks. “Go fuck yourself.”

Philippot doesn’t waver.

“I’ll put you as uncooperative right now for your behaviour,” he says in a measured tone, apparently unmoved or riled by Laporte’s ire. He verbally notes and jots down a few minor scrapes and cuts he has on him.

The “interview” progresses to the point that Philippot tells him he’s being arrested for sexual assault “or some similar offence” times three, and offers Laporte notice of his rights to counsel.

“Beat it you fucking clown, you fucking monkey,” Laporte spits.

His rant continues, rising and ducking in force.

“Go fuck yourself you fucking goof… you fucking piece of shit,” he exclaims.

He’s asked again if he wants to call a lawyer.

“Beat it — take your suit and shove it up your ass,” Laporte spits.

“Beat it clown. Beat it. Beat it.”

Philippot exits, and reemerges a few minutes later.

 12:12 (Nov. 24, 2008) Laporte says he wants to call lawyer Ian Garber. He’s asked if he has his number. The angry tirade renews.

“I’m being reasonable with you,” says Philippot. Do you want a lawyer?

“Poop your fucking head,” Laporte says.

“Poop my head, is that what you’re saying?,” Philippot asks, and again leaves.

Laporte lays his head on the table.

The tone changes roughly six minutes later.

 00:19 Philippot re-enters, this time with latex gloves on and patrol cops in tow. He tells Laporte officers are seizing his clothing as part of their investigation.

“No, you don’t get my clothes,” he says.

Laporte is told cops are going to take penile swabs from him.

“I think not,” he says. “You guys remember the last time you took one. We’ll do this on (inaudible) way. Call my lawyer and fuck off,” he says, moments later adding if cops want his clothes, they going to have to “tear ’em off me.”

So, essentially, they do. Not tear, anyways, but remove by the application of force.

Laporte is pushed up against a wall out of camera sight and cuffed.

“Stop resisting,” he’s told. “Keep that foot down.”

Then, dear reader, the screaming begins. It’s hard to hear.

Laporte howls and cries and then howls some more in what sounds like — sounds like — sheer, utter agony.

His clothes are removed and bagged, piece by piece.

They move to take his shorts. More howls.

“I’m not doing anything to you. That’s just you screaming,” one of the four cops says.

When they move for the white socks Laporte’s wearing, the screams take on a tone of unadulterated rage.

He’s told he’s just fine. “Fuck you,” he responds. “Get the fucking handcuffs off me,” he shouts.

“Because you’re being aggressive with us this is what we’re forced to do here,” a cop says.

 At this point, the tape is stopped. Philippot is still on the witness stand.

“You’ve heard screaming several times. What’s that?” asked Field.

“I can only give you my opinion,” said Philippot, explaining the cuffs were placed on Laporte for officer safety.

“No one was applying any pressure to him,” he says. He’d just scream,” later testifying: “I don’t know why he’s screaming.”

The video is started again. Now, cops are obtaining the contentious penile swabs.

“We’re treating your body as a crime scene,” Philippot tells Laporte.

The process is explained again.

“I’m HIV positive,” Laporte says.

“Thanks for sharing it with us,” says Philippot.

More yowls of rage.

“Just relax now,” Laporte is told.

“Fuck you,” he says.

 The tape again is stopped. “What’s he screaming about?,” Field asks.

Philippot explains that the process is non-invasive. Basically, one of two swabs obtained is soaked with distilled water and then rubbed on the shaft and tip of the penis. The other is bone dry.

 The video resumes.

Prior to the first swab being taken, Laporte cries: “Why are you doing this to me?” and then asks to use the washroom. “Okay, enough,” he exclaims.

“I gave you the opportunity to do this yourself,” says Philippot.

“It hurts!,” cries Laporte. “My fucking wrists!” He comments that his wrists were bleeding.

 The video is again halted. Philippot says there’s no indication Laporte’s wrists were bleeding, cops in fact, by this point, had loosened his cuffs somewhat.

Field: We’ve just heard copious amounts of screaming,” he says.

“I don’t know why he was screaming,” says Philippot.

 The video resumes, largely more of the same.

“Fuck you, Not fair, not fucking fair,” Laporte is heard saying.

“What’s not fair?,” he’s asked.

He doesn’t reply.

Oddly, Philippot asks the court to stop the video so he can comment. As you can see, he tells Schulman, we loosened his cuffs.

“I don’t see why the screaming was happening,” he says.

 Tape resumes: Laporte is escorted to the washroom, and then given some water and left alone in the room again by 00:37.

Video ends. 

Field: A decision was made to take the swabs. How did that come to pass?

Philippot: It’s part of the sex crimes investigative process. In Laporte’s case, he testified, his “hostile and volatile” demeanour kind of predicated how it would go down, that the decision to take the swabs was made after a boy disclosed being anally raped, and  cops wanted to preserve evidence. The boy’s disclosure was “grounds enough” to get the swabs.

Philippot says it was the first time in his career he’s ever had to use force to get the swabs, that usually the suspect is allowed to gather them under their own power. “Normally,” he said, “They do it themselves.”

Interestingly, Philippot remarked that studies have shown how 75 per cent of penile swabs net DNA evidence, compared with 25 per cent of vaginal swabs.

The key is gathering the sample in time, he said. “The longer you wait … the more opportunity you have to lose it,” he says.

But why do it with four cops and handcuffs?

Philippot: considering Laporte’s “hostile and volatile” demeanour, it was necessary. “I just felt as best practice for officer safety” — and Laporte’s own safety.

“In this case, for safety reasons, because of his attitude, we decided to go that way.” “It took four officers just to get has arms behind him,” said Philippot.

As for giving Laporte a phonebook to look up a lawyer’s number, his demeanour precluded that from happening, the cop said.

 The cross-examination: 

Philippot is asked how many people could have walked by and seen what was happening in the interview room (privacy rights breach?).

Philippot says setting aside the four in the room itself, there were about 18 other cops that could have walked past.

What about Laporte’s repeated demands to speak to a lawyer when the interview first began?

Well, Philippot said, there was the matter of getting that preliminary, but mandatory, prisoner log sheet taken care of first.

He said as the interviewer, he was required to feel comfortable to know that Laporte was, in fact, Laporte.

“I want to know who I’m dealing with. Get a bit of a background here,” he said.

What about when he specifically mentions wanting to speak with Ian Garber?

“I’m not going to give him a phonebook at that time,” said Philippot, “(Or) introduce any kind of weapon into the room,” he said, again referencing Laporte’s demeanour.

 How can you take a potentially-incriminating swab from a suspect when they haven’t talked to a lawyer yet?

It’s a matter of generally-accepted practice, said Philippot. “Generally, I would take the swab before giving them access to counsel,” he said, later adding it was taken as soon as possible after learning there may be evidence to be gained from it.

He was unyielding in his answers: There is no requirement to let a person talk to a lawyer prior to obtaining the swab, even though it could be incriminating. 

“There’s no warrant required here,” he said.

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R. v Sanford, Cushnie and Richard – Trial notebook pt. 1

Obviously, I can’t be in court for every moment of testimony in this serious case, but will update this notebook as I go.

For those not in the know: Ivan Radocaj, 43, was killed in his isolated home near Inwood, Manitoba in September 2007. While he wasn’t found until the 14th of the month, police allege he was killed two days prior. Radocaj was a 6′ 8″ tall man who was well-known as a pro wrestler some years ago under the names “The Croatian Giant” or Big John Radocaj. I have no picture to offer of the man, but if there’s one out there, please send it my way.

In 2008: RCMP came forward with charges against his ex-wife, Melody Sanford, 47. Later, others, including Rita Cushnie, 57, and Donald Richard, 35, were authorized. Sanford and Cushnie are friends. Richard is Cushnie’s son.

Chris Houle and Dan Richard are dealing with their charges in separate proceedings, jurors were told.

Sanford, Cushnie and Richard pleaded not guilty today in front of a six-man, six-woman jury to first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. They are presumed innocent.

Notes to supplement mainstream media accounts: (Here, here and here)

The jurors hearing the case appear to skew younger than many panels I’ve seen. Many appear to be in their early 30’s, some younger. When they were handed autopsy and crime scene photo booklets today, I watched them for any reaction. To be honest, they betrayed no overt responses.

The QB judge presiding over the case is Justice Colleen Suche.

Crown Attorneys Mark Kantor and Brian Bell — Bell being fresh off the Mark Grant trial from earlier in the year — are the prosecutors.

Ryan Amy is acting for Sanford, John McAmmond for Richard and Mike Cook for Cushnie. All experienced criminal defence lawyers.

Mark Kantor delivered the Crown’s opening to the jury, it was measured and largely dispassionate in simply noting how the progression of witnesses will go [more on this below].

However, his and Bell’s styles are very different and Kantor is certainly more animated than his counterpart. It’s a similar pairing as was in the Grant prosecution, where Mike Himmelman was the one delivering the opening – pointing red-faced at the prisoner’s dock saying the jury would have no trouble finding Grant guilty of murder. In the end, jurors did, but of second, not first-degree.

The prosecution witnesses:

  1. Dr. John Younes, a pathologist who conducted the autopsy in the case.
  2. Cpl. David Chalmers, an RCMP forensic identification officer; expected to testify about notebooks he was given that contained diagrams of Radocaj’s home and a fingerprint belonging to Sanford.
  3. A friend of Radoaj who found his body on Sept. 14, 2007.
  4. A friend of Sanford’s who the Crown says is expected to testify about comments allegedly made on her wedding day where she expressed reluctance to get married.
  5. Another friend of Sanfords who is expected to testify Sanford allegedly made comments about “hiring a hitman.”
  6. Sanford’s daughter, who is expected to testify about the relationship about Sanford and Radocaj.
  7. Tim Richard, Donald’s cousin: is expected to testify he attended a number of meetings where the conspiracy was discussed; that Sanford allegedly got Radocaj out of his house to go to dinner while three others would go there and lay in wait for him to return. The cousin is expected to tell jurors he drove the getaway car and saw the alleged attackers leave with a TV set.
  8. An associate of Richards, expected to testify that he made comments regarding his involvement in the crime.
  9. An RCMP analyst to speak about phone records seized regarding the time frame of 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the date police say Radocaj died.
  10. Melody Sanford’s statement to police.
  11. Donald Richard’s statement to police.

First in the witness stand was Dr. Younes, who testified about the injuries Radocaj had sustained. As an aside, according to Younes, Radocaj suffered from “fairly advanced” emphysema. At the time he died, he was wearing jeans from which a pack of smokes was found and “light weather” clothing.

Younes stated of the eight head injuries he found, five he’d consider to be “major” or “significant.” These included a 14×9 cm abrasion to the right side of Radocaj’s face and a “penetrating injury” to his right forehead, described by him as “a very powerful blow inflicted with a weapon of some kind.” There was another large injury on the top of his head and the large man suffered a “shattered” brain base.

As Younes described the injuries, Sanford sat with her head cradled in one hand, her reddish hair covering her face as to make her reaction unknown. Richard stared straight ahead, as did Cushnie.

Radocaj had what Younes suggested could be defensive wounds on his left arm and wrist, as if he had tried to shield himself from blows.

The weapon used, said Younes, was a “bar of some kind,” not likely a bat because there would be more bruising.

Second on the stand was Cpl. Chalmers, who was called to the crime scene to photograph it on the date Radocaj was found. 27 photos were presented to the jury, four of them Chalmers didn’t take himself.

Key points of his testimony were that an entrance door to Radocaj’s home appeared to have been “forced inward from the outside,” but he could find no tool marks to indicate it had been pried open.

Radocaj was found face up in a cluttered area of the home, which was disheveled in parts. In the bedroom, the posters from the bed had been knocked to the floor, and the mattress was out of place.

Photos 23 and 23a were taken after the crime scene investigation, they are of notebooks given to him on March 6, 2008.

Fingerprints belonging to a Tim Richard were found inside, along with one of Sanford’s when he compared them to RCMP records, he testified.

Jurors have been told to expect three weeks of testimony.

Radocaj’s parents and other supporters were present in court today.

More to come.

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Major Crimes: A week in review II

(Winnipeg police)

Without a doubt, the top local crime story this week involved the arrest of Thomas Brine, 25, in connection to the death of Elizabeth Lafantaisie. First degree murder is the charge, and strangulation the cause of death. No matter what, what happened to this woman is atrocious. Brine, despite his young age, is no stranger to the justice system in Manitoba. What may be interesting down the line is whether the “forensic evidence” police claim link Brine to the killing is a win for the RCMP DNA databank. I’m skeptical of that given the rapid-fire turnaround in what appeared to be a red ball homicide case one day and solved just a few days later. Fingerprints is my guess — but it is only a guess.

In other news, lawyer Robert Tapper had a better week than last with an even score in terms of his conviction rate. There was more (unfair) gnashing of teeth about his role as special prosecutor after WPS Constable Ken Anderson was acquitted of sex-related charges — but there was really no reason for it. Anderson was found not guilty after a full and transparent shake in the justice system. The story about the abuse was found to be just that — a story. I note no one has called for a review of the case in light of the acquittal, so here’s hoping Anderson can somehow get back to work and be able to put this behind him. But it won’t be an easy task, as Mike Sutherland of the WPA told CBC this week:

“Just the allegations alone cause challenges and sometimes they’re difficult to rebound from,” Sutherland said.

Tapper said he won’t appeal the Anderson ruling.

The lawyer’s week got better by Thursday, when former RCMP officer Benjamin Neufeldt was sent packing to jail for sexually exploiting a teen girl on a Manitoba reserve. Mike Mac of the WFP had a good story on the details of the case.

One thing good comes out of the recent Tapper cases, however — it’s brought to the surface the process by which independent lawyers are appointed in cases where a suspect has a direct connection to the justice system. As I’ve learned, Manitoba appears to be the only province where local lawyers are actually hired to prosecute cases independently from, but in consultation with, the justice department. Justice Minister Swan is promising to sit down with head of prosecutions Mike Mahon and see what’s what. It comes on the heels of a recent review of the provincial policy by retired Judge Ruth Krindle.

The media glare continued to shine on Justice Robert Dewar this week and several local stories examined past court decisions he’s made, at least one of which is under review by the Manitoba Court of Appeal, which could rule to order a new trial any day now. Alternately, it could not. The judge’s week got worse when the judiciary came forward with a statement about his status about not hearing cases of a sexual nature, followed by the news he either was punted or asked to recuse himself from sitting in the Wegier manslaughter trial — a decidedly non-sexual case.

(Allan Fineblit/Lawyersweekly.ca)

However, the most interesting information and reaction about the whole affair came from blogger/WFP reporter Melissa Martin, and an op-ed in the Free Press from Law Society head-honcho Allan Fineblit. While Fineblit starts off obviously referring to the Dewar furor but goes on the describe how the process of judicial appointments could be altered, he provides some useful information. I’d bet if you asked the average person what they think about the appointment of judges in Canada, you’d get a blank stare, followed by ramblings about blood sacrifices and cloaked old coots hunched over in some stone room waiting for a phone call from the PMO. We now know, through him, that that’s not the case.

I was waiting, though for someone to comment on the first few paragraphs of the piece that says the following [again – referring to, but not naming Dewar and his current predicament]:

Let’s face it, even good judges sometimes make mistakes, or lose their patience, or say the occasional dumb thing. They are, after all, human beings and to my mind the more humanity the better. Mistakes can be fixed. That is what the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court do for a living. But I am not writing this to tell you about what I think about our judges. I am writing it to tell you how we can do better.

Something strikes me that given the outcry about Dewar, many people don’t think he simply made a mistake, lost his patience or simply said a dumb thing in the sex-assault case ruling that brought all the attention.

But again, I have yet to see full transcript of the ruling, let alone the full trial testimony.

The Freep’s FASD series continued  — with today’s comprehensive look at youth justice and the disorder. It should come as no surprise to anyone, however, that the Manitoba Youth Centre is a convenient warehouse for kids with cognitive or other disorders. Still waiting on that mental health court, NDP.

In other news:

  • The united front known as the Devil’s Gap Cottagers have taken a unique land claims situation and are trying to turn their misfortune into some kind of advantage by suing their former legal team for millions.
  • In the days after the city settled with Manitoba Hydro over a long-standing tax dispute, the city filed a suit against local company J.A. Robinson for alleged problems with a tech system for its fleet of vehicles worth more than $600,000.
  • On the flip side, the WRHA is going after the city and trying to force it into arbitration over a dispute over rents involving one or two community health clinics. In court documents, the WRHA says it is seeking reimbursement of  alleged rent overpayments to the city between 2000-2007. The dispute has been brewing since 2006 and could be valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, lawyers for the health authority say. The amount is very much in dispute. An affidavit says the city has failed to respond to the WRHA’s letters “seeking the co-operation in the appointment of an arbitrator under the arbitration clause” of a lease agreement.
  • This guy has admitted responsibility to using  a former roommate’s kids he used to babysit to make child pornography with, among other things. Has to be one of the fastest turn-arounds for a major case I’ve ever seen. He was just arrested in January. Sentencing was adjourned to a later date.

Finally — kudos to Manitoba Justice and Crown attorney Lisa Carson [and by extension now-Judge Dale Schille] — for this. Although the penalty to some may seem like small potatoes for the blood that was shed, it’s the maximum allowed by law in Canada. In the U.S., he’d have likely faced execution or consecutive life terms for all three murders. I’m waiting to see if he’ll appeal, and on what grounds. That’s two adult sentences in two weeks for Manitoba Justice, and a third to follow this week, which I’ll be covering in detail.

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Why details are important, or: get with the times

(National Post)

Yesterday’s post about Graham James’s bail release inferred that there was something hinky going on in terms of how the system worked in this case.

It’s my belief today that there was, but not solely related to James’s case as I (and many others) incorrectly implied yesterday.

Instead, the issue is more of a systemic one relating to how the media and public are often left in the dark in a criminal justice system that’s supposed to be open to a fault, according to countless judges.

But in Manitoba, there’s nagging issues with the system that point to it lagging far behind the times.

To her credit, the Crown on the case, Colleen McDuff, was forthright in her explanation of why things happened the way they did, best explained by CP and a few lines from Mike McIntyre’s story in today’s FP.

CP:

A Manitoba Crown attorney says there was no secrecy involved in releasing convicted sex offender Graham James on bail.
Colleen McDuff says it is “just how the nature of his release
played out.”
McDuff says most of the conditions had been fixed in court last
week and there were only a few details to be worked out.
One was the address where he would be reporting to police in
Montreal.
James was expected to be in a Winnipeg court yesterday to
finalize his bail conditions.
But documents indicate that a justice of the peace signed off on
his release late Friday afternoon after James posted 10-thousand dollars in cash.

But, crucially, there’s more: From Mike Mac:

Crown attorney Colleen McDuff said there was nothing “sneaky” about how James was released.

“There was no conspiracy here. He was treated the same way as everyone else who gets bail,” McDuff told the Free Press.

Pollack originally granted bail to James on Dec. 7, despite objections by the Crown. A court-ordered ban prevents specific details of the hearing from being published. James didn’t get out that day because lawyers still had to draft the various terms of his release, which Pollack asked to be sent to him in chambers for final approval.

James was never required to make a further court appearance on the bail.

Once Pollack received the conditions, he drew up the order and it became official. James then had to wait until Friday to come up with a $10,000 surety he is required to post. Once the money was in, James was free to go.

His case was put on Monday afternoon’s docket but simply as a way to keep track of it. He is not required to make personal appearances unless ordered by a judge.

While I’m still a little unclear about the distinction ‘justice of the peace’ versus Judge Pollack himself signing off on bail conditions in chambers, this explanation makes more sense in terms of process.

It’s weird, and to be honest, I hadn’t ever encountered things being done this way, but whatever — I’m not the most experienced or smart courts reporter in the world.

We already knew James was getting out.

The problem is, the Crown could have expected the public to be confused by the process as it unfolded and taken easy steps to correct it.

When reporters left the courthouse on Dec. 7, they were under the understanding that the hearing would continue yesterday, a bail order would be signed off on in open court and it would be publicly put on the record.

Yes, reporters would be there to witness it. Yes, TV cameras would be camped outside the Law Courts, yes, there would be questions and requests for interviews.

Forgive us. That’s our job, and justice system participants like it enough when they need something to reach the public’s eyes and ears. We’re part of the landscape and ignoring that reality just won’t work. That much is clear.

But in the case of James’s release, the system didn’t work as the public was led to expect it would —Instead, it went the other way, resulting in the suspicion that something was going on in the shadows, that maybe James was getting special treatment.

Given the ever-increasing roadblocks put up in the media’s way in modern times, it’s only natural — and should have been expected — that there’d be some headscratching and a few questions for how his release came together in the end.

It’s not surprising, or a stretch for the Prosecutions Division to have seen that there was/is immense public interest in this case and responded accordingly on Friday by issuing a news release to media outlets that James had met his bail conditions ahead of the perceived schedule and what those conditions were.

It really would have been that simple.

And not without precedent: When the Crown applies for a publication ban in high-profile cases, they’re often quick to send a fax off to newsrooms to notify them of what’s being sought — likely for the reason they could oppose it should they choose.

It happened just the other day in connection to the Mark Stobbe murder case.

When the charges against James were formally laid recently, the Crown faxed the court informations (public charging documents) over to newsrooms explaining clearly what was happening and the restrictions on publishing certain information (the names of two of the complainants).

The media, and therefore the public, knew what was happening, it was a clear signal from the Crown that it wanted to get in front of what was certain to be a highly-publicized case and make sure nothing incorrect or prejudicial to the case or alleged victims got out.

So, from this, it would have been a simple matter of following through to keep everybody in the loop.

I get that Crowns are overworked and don’t have time to be worrying about the media’s needs, which, I admit could be perceived as overwhelming in some cases.

But how much time did McDuff have to spend on Monday giving interviews to clarify a situation that could have been easily cleared up with an emailed or faxed statement regarding what happened?

It’s not rocket science.

And — in the absence of keeping the public in the loop by some other means — is it inconceivable that the Crown, faced with a request to deal with James’s conditions and release on Friday, could have said ‘not today, see you in court as scheduled’?

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Recommended Reading: National Post article on Digitizing the Law.

Come on. Even the Queen (sometimes known as the Crown) is on Facebook now.