Saturday, November 14, 2015

Court of Appeal Rules Trial Judge Not Fair and Balanced in Assessing Credibility of Defendant and Crown Witnesess


CITATION:   R.  v.  Gravesande,  2015  ONCA  774
DATE: 20151113 DOCKET:   C58782

Hoy  A.C.J.O.,  Weiler  and  Pardu JJ.A.


Her  Majesty  the Queen



Deryk Gravesande


Marie Henein, Scott Hutchison and  Matthew  Gourlay,  for the appellant  
Luc  Boucher  and  Jim Marshall,   for the respondent
Heard:  October  8,  2015

On appeal from the conviction  entered  by  Justice  Wayne  G.  Rabley  of  the Ontario  Court  of Justice  on February  13,  2014.

Pardu J.A.:

[1]   The   appellant,   an  experienced   defence   lawyer,   was  convicted    of smuggling drugs into the Toronto Jail for a former client in the course of  a professional  visit.
[2]      correctional  officer,   Darryl  Beaulieu,  found  the  drugs  on  the  appellant’s former   client,   Joacquin   Rowe.   Beaulieu   claimed   that  he  searched  Rowe  before and after the appellant’s visit. He claimed that he did  not  find  any  drugs on Rowe during the first search; however, that first search did not comply with the prison’s protocols and,  significantly,  Beaulieu  did  not  conduct  full  strip  search.  During  the  second  search,  drugs  were  found  in a sock  hidden  in Rowe’s underwear.
[3]     The  Crown  alleged  that  the  appellant  was  the  one  who  provided  the  drugs  to  Rowe.  The  appellant  denied  the  charge.  Rowe did  not  testify  nor  did  he  provide  any information   about  how  he acquired  the  drugs.
[4]  The  Crown’s   case  against   the  appellant  was  circumstantial.  Beaulieu  and   Nicu Sava, another correctional  officer  on  duty on  the  night  of  the  appellant’s visit, were the  Crown’s  most  significant  witnesses.  Ultimately, the  trial  judge accepted the evidence of the Crown, including that of Beaulieu and Sava. Consequently, the  trial  judge rejected  the   appellant’s   evidence,   and   convicted him.
[5]   For  the  reasons  that  follow,  conclude  that  the  trial judge’s  verdict  must  be set aside. I come to that conclusion for two  reasons.  First,  review  of  the  trial  judge’s reasons demonstrates that he applied a stricter level of scrutiny to  the appellant’s evidence  thato  the  prosecution  witnesses.  Second,  the  trial  judge erred in concluding that certain  third-party  records  requested  by  the  appellant were not likely relevant to  an  issue  in  the  trial  and,  on  that  basis,  refusing  to  review  documents   that  had  already  been produced.

A.                 BACKGROUND   IN BRIEF

[6]  The  appellant  had  represented   Rowe   in   a   trial  which  ended   with   Rowe being found guilty. Rowe had  asked  the  appellant  to  represent  him on  a retrial for  the same charges. According to the appellant,  he  was  visiting  Rowe to  let  him  know  that  the  appellant  would  not  be able  to represent   him.
[7]  The  appellant  arrived  at  the  Toronto  Jail  around  7:10   p.m.   He   passed through security. The two guards on  duty at  the  front  desk  spent  about  two  minutes with him, but noticed nothing unusual –  in  particular,  no  unusual  smell despite  one of  them  being  within  10 feet of  the  appellant.
[8] After passing through security,  the  appellant  proceeded  to  the  second  floor where he was met by Beaulieu. At trial, Beaulieu  testified  that  he  immediately  noticed strong  smell  of  cologne  and  what  thought  was  marijuana  mixed  in  with that  smell”.  Sava  also testified  that  he  noticed  an  odour  of  marijuana  when  the appellant arrived on the second floor despite the fact that  he was  not in the hallway   but  at a table  reserved  for guards  located  at least  10  or 20 feet   away.
[9] After directing the appellant to an interview room, Beaulieu  contacted  his  supervisor, conveyed his  suspicion  that the  appellant  was  carrying  drugs,  and asked  for  instructions. Beaulieu’s  supervisor told  him  to  follow  the  Standing  Orders. The Standing  Orders  required  strip  search  of  the  inmate  and  search of    the   interview   room,   before   and   after   every   professional   visit.   As   will be discussed in greater  detail  later  on,  the  correctional  officers  on  duty did  not comply  with  the  Standing  Orders.
[10]  Beaulieu  retrieved  Rowe and  took him  to  room  out   of  range  of surveillance cameras in order to search  him.  Beaulieu  had  asked  another correctional officer,  William  Greene, to  be  present  for  the  search.  However, Greene left shortly after  the  search  began.  Video  surveillance  played  at  trial showed Beaulieu briefly handling Rowe’s  orange  jumpsuit. Beaulieu  gave  the  jumpsuit back to Rowe  within  three  or  four  seconds  of  receiving  it.  Rowe  was  in  the  room  for 75 seconds.
[11]  During  his  examination-in-chief  at  trial,  Sava  testified  that the   interview room had  been  searched. However,  when confronted  with  evidence  to  the  contrary,  he admitted   that  he  had not  searched  the  interview room.
[12] The appellant spent about  35  minutes in  the  interview  room  with  Rowe. Following the meeting, Rowe was  searched  again  and  black  sock  containing eight cellophane wrapped packages of marijuana,  package  of  lidocaine,  some rolled marijuana cigarettes, and a  piece  of  cellophane  with  lubricant  on  it  was found  in his underwear.

B.                 PROCEEDINGS   BELOW

[13]     The  appellant  was  charged  with  one count  of trafficking.

[14] Before his trial had begun, the appellant applied for production  of  certain  third-party records that,  broadly  speaking,  related  to  the  frequency,  prevalence,  and nature of drug smuggling at the Toronto  Jail.  With  the  exception  of  some records not at issue on appeal, the trial judge dismissed the  application.  The  application and the  trial  judge’s  decision  are  discussed  at  greater  length  later  on  in these  reasons.
[15]  At  trial,  the  Crown  called  number  of  employees  working  at  the  Toronto  Jail,  the  investigating  officer,  and  an  expert  witness  who  testified  about  the  value  of the drugs found on Rowe. The appellant  testified  on  his  own  behalf  and  also called  a character  witness.
[16]  Ultimately, the  trial  judge decided   that   the   appellant   had   smuggled  the drugs found on Rowe. In coming to that decision, the trial  judge  reached  the following   conclusions  as well:
·        The smell of marijuana identified by Beaulieu and Sava arrived with the appellant,   and  that  there  was  no innocent  explanation   for it.
·        Rowe did not have the drugs on his person when  he  entered  the  interview  room.
·        Rowe did not have  the  black  sock  hidden  in  his  jumpsuit  before  the interview and Beaulieu had  searched  his  underwear to  make  sure  nothing was  hidden  there.
[17]  The  trial  judge stated  that the  appellant   was  a   reasonable   witness.   However, the trial judge  noted  some  weaknesses  in  his  testimony  and  stated  that  the appellant was not compelling enough to leave the trial  judge  in  a  state  of reasonable doubt. Ultimately, the  trial  judge accepted  the  Crown’s  evidence, rejected  that  of  the  defence,  and  convicted  the appellant.


[18] This court has  repeatedly  stated  that  it is  an error  of  law for  a trial judge to  apply a higher or stricter  level  of  scrutiny  to  the  evidence  of  the  defence  than  to  the evidence of the Crown: R. v. Owen (2001), 150 O.A.C.  378,  at para.  3;  R.  v. H.C.2009  ONCA  56,  241  C.C.C.  (3d)  45,  at  para.  62;  R.  v.  Phan,  2013  ONCA  787, 313 O.A.C. 352 at para. 30. However,  as noted  by  Laskin J.A.  in R.  v.  Aird, 2013  ONCA   447,  307  O.A.C.  183,  at para. 39:
The "different standards of  scrutiny"  argument is  a difficult argument to  succeed  on  in  an  appellate  court.  It is difficult for two related  reasons:  credibility  findings are the province of the trial judge and attract  very high degree of deference on appeal; and appellate courts invariably  view  this  argument with  skepticism,  seeing  it  as veiled  invitation  to  reassess  the  trial  judge's credibility  determinations.

[19] For an appellant to successfully  advance  this  ground  of  appeal,  she  must identify something clear in the trial judge’s reasons or the record indicating that a different standard of scrutiny was applied and something sufficiently significant to displace  the  deference  due  to  trial  judge’s  credibility  assessments:  R.  v.   Howe  (2005),  192  C.C.C.  (3d)  480  at  para.  59  (Ont.  C.A.);  R.  v.  Rhayel2015   ONCA  377,  324 C.C.C. (3d) 362,  at para.   98.

[20] In this case,  the  appellant  succeeds  on  this  ground  of  appeal. The  trial  judge’s reasons demonstrate  that he  rejected  the  appellant’s testimony  for speculative reasons, while failing to apply similar scrutiny to  the  evidence  of  the  Crown.

(1) Evidence   of the appellant

[21]  The  trial  judge summarized the  appellant’s evidence   in   his   reasons convicting  the  appellant   as follows:
[The appellant]  testified  on his  own  behalf.   [The appellant] was at the time of  the  trial  61  years  of  age  and had practised as a lawyer for  22  years.  He  explained that he did not and would never have brought  drugs into the  Toronto  Jail.  He  testified  that every seasoned criminal lawyer knew that inmates were strip searched before and  after  visits  with  lawyers.  According  to  Mr.  Paul  Copeland, [the  appellant]  is  a  lawyer  who  is a man of good reputation in the community as  well  as  within the legal fraternity. Why,  the  question  must  be asked, would a lawyer who is in good  standing,  be  so foolish as to take the  chance  to  bring  drugs  into  jail  and  give  them  to a former  client?
[22] The trial judge indicated that he  could  not  “point  to  an  area  of  [the appellant’s] examination in chief or cross-examination where I would say that his evidence   was  implausible   or  unbelievable.”   However,   he  continued   [that]   does not mean I found his  evidence  compelling  enough  to  say  believed  him or  that  it left  me  in a state  of reasonable   doubt”.
[23]    The   trial  judge  went  on  to  note  what  he  described  as  weaknesses     in the appellant’s   evidence.   He  identified  the  following  “weaknesses”:
·        The appellant was suffering from depression and taking medication for his depression  at the  time  of  the visit.
·        The appellant  could  not  remember  his  exact  income  when  cross-examined on the issue. In respect of this issue, the trial judge stated that “a sole practitioner not only runs a law practise, he runs a business.  It  is  hard  to believe   that  he has no  idea of what  his bottom  line   was.”
·        The  trial  judge found  the  appellant’s explanation  for  the   visit,   specifically that he went to inform Rowe that he  could  not  represent  him,  hard  to  accept. The trial judge stated that  “[on]  its  face,  [the  appellant’s] income seems to suggest that he might have room for other clients” and  that  the  appellant could have “done the  necessary  steps  to  do  a  pre-trial  and  then  set the matter once again for trial.” The trial  judge  stated  that  the  appellant would “have had ample time to do the actual preparation  given  that  the  trial would   likely   be  number   of  months  after   the   homicide  case   had been

·        The trial  judge  also  held  against  the  appellant  the  fact  that  he  was  carrying a  slender   file.   The   trial  judge  stated   that   “it  is  curious  that  [the appellant]
would be working on factum  with  respect  to  serious  fraud  and  have  such a thin file with him.  If  he  had  said  that  he  grabbed a piece of  the file and  put  it into  a file folder  that  would  have  made  more sense.
[24] With respect, it is difficult to see how any of  the  issues  identified by  the trial  judge constitute  “weaknesses” in  the  appellant’s  testimony. The  fact  that,  at  the  time of the visit, the appellant  was  suffering  from  depression  does  not  make  it  more likely that he committed criminal  offence  or  was  less  credible  at  trial.  The trial  judge’s  conclusions about  sole   practitioner’s   knowledge  about   his business, the appellant’s schedule, or the size of his file  are  all based  on speculation.
[25] The  trial  judge described  the  deficiencies  in  the  appellant’s evidence  as  “small weaknesses”. He said he  would  not  reject  his  evidence  on  the  basis  of  these small issues but indicated “they are a bit troublesome and cause me some concern.” In respect of the size  of  the  file brought to  the  jail,  the  trial judge  stated that [again], this is a small issue  and  the  explanation  could  be  true,  but  it  didn’t give me the sense that I was hearing the actual facts when I was listening to [the appellant].” Reading the trial judge’s reasons as  whole,  it  is  inescapable  that  he took  these  matters  into  consideration  in evaluating  the  appellant’s   credibility.
[26]  In  addition  to  identifying  the  weaknesses  noted above, the   trial   judge  rejected  the  proposition  that  Rowe  had  the  drugs  secreted  on  his  person  and that Beaulieu did not see them, saying “I agree  with  the defence proposition there are  drugs in the Toronto Jail.  In  my  mind  that  is  not  the  issue  and  it  is  certainly  not the  relevant  issue  for me  to determine.”
[27]  The  trial  judge rejected  the  proposition  that  Rowe could  have  gotten  the   drugs from someone else based on his observations of the  drugs  which  he described as somewhat smaller than  eight  golf  balls.  He  said  he  looked  closely  at  the photographs and concluded  that  there  was  “no  evidence  that  there  are  feces  on them”. There  was  no  expert  evidence  that  the  packages  would  necessarily  have been contaminated, or that  such  contamination  would  be  visible  in  pictures.  The trial judge’s observations were, once again, based on  speculation  and  went beyond  the  acceptable  scope  of  judicial notice.

(2) Evidence   of Beaulieu   and Sava

[28]  As  noted, Beaulieu  met  the  appellant  on  the  second  floor  after  he  was allowed into  the  Toronto  Jail.  Beaulieu  testified  that he  immediately  noticed  “a strong smell of cologne and what thought  was  marijuana  mixed  in  with  that smell”. Sava, who was assigned to the same  floor,  also  testified  that  he  noticed  a smell  of  marijuana   when  the  appellant  arrived  on the  second floor.
[29] However, when  the  appellant  initially  arrived  at  the  Toronto  Jail,  he  had  to  pass  through  security.  There  were  two  officers  on  duty  at  the  front  desk,  and the appellant was within 10  feet  of  one  of  them.  Neither  noticed  anything  unusual, and  in particular  neither  noticed  any  smell  about  the  appellant.
[30] Moreover, on cross-examination,  Sava  admitted  that  he  was  not  in  the hallway, but at a table reserved for guards some distance away. Sava continued maintaining that he  could  smell  marijuana  emanating from  the  interview  room where  the  appellant  was  sitting  waiting  for Rowe.
[31]  Beaulieu  contacted  his   supervisor   for  instructions,  because  he  suspected that the  appellant  was  carrying  drugs.  Beaulieu’s  supervisor instructed  him  to follow the Standing Orders. The Standing Orders  required  strip  search  of  an inmate before  and  after  every professional  visit. The  Standing   Orders   also required that the strip search be conducted in the presence of two officers, and  required that the inmate “undress completely” and “bend over to allow  visual inspection  of the  external   surface areas  of body  cavities.”
[32] After Beaulieu retrieved Rowe,  they proceeded  to  an  interview  room  out  of range of surveillance cameras for the search. Beaulieu had asked Greene  to  be  present for  the  search.  However,  at  trial,  Greene admitted  that he  was  not present for much of the search and did  not  remember  how  far  the  search  got. Video surveillance recorded activity in the hallway, outside of the room  where  the search occurred. Greene did not go in that room. After Rowe entered the room,  Beaulieu   remained   standing   in  the   doorway   and  briefly   handled   Rowe’s orange jumpsuit. At  this  time, Greene  wandered  down  the  hallway  and  does  not  observe the rest of the search. Beaulieu  gives  the  jumpsuit  back  to  Rowe  within  three  or  four  seconds  and  Rowe  comes  out  of the  room fully  dressed.
[33] At trial, Beaulieu initially claimed that  he  had  conducted  a  “strip  search”  of Rowe. However, he conceded that the search was not  in  accordance  with  the standing  orders. Beaulieu  testified  as follows  about  his  usual   manner   of conducting  a strip  search:
I just want to  make  sure  that  am satisfied  that  there  is no  weapons  or  contraband  on  them  so  make  sure  that I have them take off their  jumper,  have  them  take  off  their  shoes, their  T-shirt,  their  socks.  usually   leave  them in their boxers to keep dignity intact,  and  always have  them run  their  thumbs along the  rim  of  their boxers, pull up boxers and run  their  thumb  along,  so  if  they are concealing anything will  be  able  to see it or  it  will  fall  out  onto  the floor.

Q.  And  is that  what  you did that day?

A. I believe   so,  yes. [Emphasis   added.]

[34] According to the video surveillance played at trial, this part  of  the  search  occupied three or four seconds. Rowe spent total  of  75  seconds  in  the  room  where  the  search occurred.
[35]  Sava, during  his  examination-in-chief,  claimed  that he  searched  the   interview  room  before  and  after  the  visit.  However,  and  only when  confronted  with  the  fact  that  both  the  logbook  for  recording  searches  and  video  recording of the room demonstrated the contrary, he  admitted  that  he  had  not  searched  the  room but  just  assumed   that  others had.
[36]  The  trial  judge noted   that  there  were  some  issues  with   the  evidence  of  both Sava and Beaulieu. The trial judge found that  Sava  “shaped  his  evidence”  to make it seem as  if  he  and  his  colleagues  had  followed  the  required  protocols,  and that he did so to protect his job. Moreover, the trial judge found that the  correctional officers had not acted in accordance  with  “all  of  the  procedures  that they  were  obligated   to follow.”

(3) The  trial judge  applied   uneven  scrutiny

[37] In spite of  the  problems the  trial  judge himself  identified,  and  in  sharp  contrast to his focus on “small weaknesses” in  the  appellant’s  evidencethe  trial  judge accepted the evidence of both Sava and  Beaulieu.  Even  though he  concluded that Sava  had  been  shaping  his  evidence,  the  trial  judge states  that “he was also telling the truth about the events that unfolded  when  [the  appellant]  arrived.” As noted, Sava was forced to  admit  that he  had  not  searched  the interview room after he was confronted  with  evidence  to  the  contrary.  The  trial  judge characterized this retreat as follows: “Once he realized that detail  was important,   Sava  made  realistic   concessions.”
[38] In respect  of  Beaulieu,  the  trial  judge  noted  that“it  is  difficult  not  to  be  a little  critical  of  the  failure  of  correctional  officer  to  follow  procedures”  and  that this error was “further magnified by the fact that the correctional officer’s direct supervisor had instructed  him  to  follow  the  standard  procedures”.  However,  the  trial judge essentially dismissed these concerns, and stated that  “in  fairness  to [Beaulieu] this was a challenging situation that he could not have contemplated in advance”   and  that  “[to] err is human.”
[39] In addition, and once again in sharp contrast to his approach towards the appellant’s case, the trial judge did not focus on or consider weaknesses  in  the  Crown’s case. For instance, the trial judge accepted Beaulieu’s evidence that he “believed” he had  performed  the  kind  of search  he would   usually   have  conducted, including making sure that Rowe was not hiding anything  in  his underwear. Beaulieu did not unequivocally say he conducted a search of Rowe’s underwear.  However,  in  coming to  this conclusion, the   trial   judge   never considered the fact that Beaulieu spent a very small  amount  of  time searching Rowe. He did not turn his mind to the  fact  that  Greene,  who  was  required  to  observe the  search,  just  happened to  be  absent  at  the  critical  time. The  trial  judge never considered that Beaulieu may have done nothing to search Rowe’s underwear, despite his repeated failures to follow the Standing Orders and his supervisor’s   instructions.
[40] Similarly, the trial judge accepted and placed a great deal  of  emphasis  on  Beaulieu  and  Sava’s evidence  that they noticed  an  odour  of  marijuana  as  soon  as  the   appellant   arrived.   The   trial   judge   never  considered  the   fact  that   smell evidence   can   be  highly   subjective   and   suspect:   R.   v.  Polashek  (1999),   134 C.C.C. (3d) 187 (Ont. C.A.). Nor did he ever turn his mind to the fact that the two  guards who had  interacted  with  the  appellant  moments  ago,  when  he  was  passing  through  security,  did not notice  any such  smell.
[41] Finally, the  trial  judge  concluded  that  Sava  was  credible  witness  on  at  least some issue, even though he had been  “shaping”  his  evidence.  At  the  same  time, he rejected the appellant’s otherwise credible evidence on the basis of weaknesses which  even  the  trial  judge  admitted  were  small  and  insignificant.  In  the context of this case, the trial judge’s decision to  accept the  evidence  of  Sava  while rejecting the  evidence  of  the  appellant  as  not  “compelling  enough  to  say  that  I believed   him”  is deeply  incongruous.
[42] When read as a whole, the trial judge’s  reasons  demonstrate  degree  of scrutiny  of  the  prosecution  evidence  that  was  tolerant  and  relaxed  as  compared  to the  irrelevant,  tenuous and  speculative observations largely  about  collateral matters   applied  to  unfairly  discount  the  appellant’s  evidence.
[43]  Even  if  the  evidence   was  capable   of  supporting  conviction,  where  the trial judge has applied different standards to the assessment of prosecution  and  defence evidence the  appellant  has  not  received  a  fair  trial,  and  thus  has  been  the victim of a miscarriage of  justice:  R.  v.  T.T.2009  ONCA  613,  68 C.R. (6th) 1,  at para.  74.

[44]     I would  allow  the  appeal  and  order  a new  trial  on this ground.

D.                 THIRD-PARTY   RECORDS

[45]    The   appellant  also   submits   that  the  trial  judge  erred  in  refusing  to  inspect third  party  records  to assess  whether  they  should  be produced  to the  defence.

(1) Dismissal   of  third-party  records application

[46]   The  appellant  brought  written  application  for  the  production  of  number   of third-party records in the possession of the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services,  the  Ministry’s  Correctional  Investigation  and  Security  Unit,  the Toronto Jail, and the Toronto Police Service, for a period  roughly  five  years  before the date of the  alleged  offence,  January  20,  2012.  The  documents  requested   included  the following:
·        Prison records for each incident in which a Toronto Jail employee was suspected, investigated or convicted of smuggling contraband into the jail between  January  1, 2007  and January  20,  2012.
·        Internal correspondence, memoranda, emails and  similar  communication between the  Toronto  Jail  staff  and  the  Correctional  Investigation and Security Unit concerning  smuggling  activity  by inmates, prison  staff, custodians   and visitors  between   January  1, 2007  and  January  20, 2012.

·        Investigation files and reports for any staff working at the  Toronto  Jail  in  January 2012 who have been investigated or disciplined for smuggling contraband   into jails.
·        Statistical documents or reports showing the number  of  investigations  into  drug  smuggling  by  Toronto  Jail staff  for the  years 2007  to 2012.
[47] As noted by the trial judge, the appellant was seeking production of these documents in  order to  assist  him  to  test the  reliability  of the  Crown’s  circumstantial case, and to develop evidence of pervasive drug smuggling at  the  Toronto  Jail.
[48] The  appellant  had  served  subpoena  duces  tecum  upon  the  custodian  of  the records. The records noted above had  been  assembled  and  were  in  two  binders  in the  courtroom.
[49] In  his  reasons  dismissing  the  appellant’s application,  the  trial  judge was clearly concerned about the  efficient  use  of  judicial  resources  and  ensuring  that the  court remained  focus  on the  issue  before  him.  He  concluded that:
It is important  that Courts  remain  focussed  on  the  issues  at  hand.  The  documents   sought  by  the  defence in these paragraphs relate  to  wider  issue  and  that  is  the smuggling of drugs into  jails  and  more  particularly,  the Toronto Jail. The Crown concedes that drugs are smuggled into the Toronto Jail and it is obvious from the extensive  case  law   relative   to   smuggling   contraband  into penal institutions that this is an issue of  concern  in many jurisdictions.  In  my  view,  this  fact  is  not  relevant as     to     whether     or    not    Mr.     Gravesande   smuggled contraband  into  the  Toronto  Jail  on  the  day  in  question. I would  therefore  dismiss  this part  of the   Application.

(2) Test  for  third-party  records  and  “likely  relevance”  standard

[50] The procedure for production of third party records was set out  in  R.  v. O’Connor,  [1995]  4 S.C.R.  411,  at para.  20:
·        The accused must bring  a  written application  supported  by  an  affidavit setting  out  a basis  to believe   that  the  records  are likely relevant1.
·        Notice must be given to the custodian of the  records  and,  if  known,  to persons  who  have  a privacy  interest  in the  records.
·        The    accused   must    ensure   that   the   custodian   and   the   records   are subpoenaed  to  ensure  their  attendance  in  court.
·        The application should  be  heard  well  in  advance  of  the  trial  so  that  the trial is not  disrupted.
[51] If the record  holder  or  some  other  interested  party  opposes  the  application, then the trial judge must determine whether production should be compelled in accordance  with  the  two-stage test established   in  O’Connor.   At  the  first  stage, the trial judge must determine  if  the  records  are  “likely  relevant”  to  the  proceedings and if they should be produced for  the  court’s  inspection.  At  the second  stage,   the  trial  judge  examines  the  documents  to  determine  whether,   and to what extent, production to the accused  should  be  ordered:  R.  v.  McNeil2009 SCC 3,  [2009]  1 S.C.R.  66,  at para. 27.
[52] Likely relevance in this context means “a reasonable  possibility  that  the  information is logically probative to an issue at trial”:  O’Connorat  para.  22.  An  “issue at trial” includes not only material issues  concerning  the  unfolding  of  the  events which form  the  subject  matter of  the  proceedings,  but  also evidence relating to the credibility of witnesses and to the  reliability  of  other  evidence  in the case:  McNeilat para. 33.
[53] “Likely relevant” is not  to  be  interpreted  as  an  onerous  burden  on  the accused. Considerations of  privacy  and  admissibility  are  not  relevant  at  this  stage: O’Connor, at para. 24. As indicated in O’Connor, at para. 24: A relevance threshold, at this stage, is simply a requirement  to  prevent the  defence  from engaging in speculative, fanciful, disruptive, unmeritorious, obstructive and time-consuming requests   for production.

(3) The  records  requested  were likely  relevant

[54] The appellant’s application, in this  casecould  not  be  characterized  as  fishing  expedition   or  unmeritorious request.
[55] The application was brought in a timely fashion, and  was  not  last-minute request. This application was brought well in advance of  the  trial  date. The application   was  heard  on  September   11,   2013   and  reasons  were  delivered  on October 21, 2013. Evidence on the trial proper  did  not  begin  until  December  9,  2013.
[56] The application was amply supported by  an  affidavit.  The  affidavit  also indicated that the  information  was unlikely to  be  available pursuant   to   the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy ActR.S.O  1990,  c.  F-31 because of  concerns  that  divulgation  could  impair  jail  security.  The  affidavit  filed  in support of the  application  cited  a  2003  University of  Toronto  study  indicating  that 45% of inmates housed  within  provincial  institution  in  Ontario  had  used drugs in the preceding year. The affidavit also referred to a June 11, 2013 Ombudsman’s report about the code of silence  that exists  among  correctional officers:
The  Applicant  is  unlikely to  obtain  information   by speaking to current or former  jail  staff.  In  a  June  11,  2013 report entitled “The Code”,  Ontario  Ombudsman  André Marin detailed the “code of silence” that  exists among  correctional  officers  in  Ontario.  It  is  “essentially an unwritten social incentive  for  staff  to  conceal  information  that might  have   negative   consequences  for  a co-worker.” Correctional officers who  break  “the  code” are “shunned, threatened, and risk personal harm for “ratting” on their colleagues.” The  Ombudsman  spoke  to  one jail superintendent who is “aware of cases where threats of death and physical violence have been made against those who told the truth in the face of the code.” [Footnote   omitted.]

[57] Furthermore, and contrary to the  trial  judge’s  conclusion,  the  source  of  the  drugs  on  Rowe’s  person  was  highly  relevant  to  the  issues  at  trial.  If,  for  example, drugs were  rampant  in  the  Toronto  Jail,  this  might  have  affected  the  assessment  of the probability that Rowe was carrying them  when  he  came  to  the  interview  room. The information requested  might  have  shed  light  on  methods  used  by inmates to  smuggle drugs,  and  participation  by staff  and  visitors  in   these activities. The slender  concession  by  the  Crown,  that  there  were  drugs  in  the  jail, in all  probability  did not  convey  the  extent   of the  problem.
[58]   There   is  a  reasonable  possibility  that  the  information  was  logically   relevant to an issue at trial: did  the  appellant  bring  drugs  to  Rowe,  knowing  that  Rowe would be  searched  before  and  after  the  visit  or  was  Rowe  carrying  those  drugs on his person when he came to the interview room. The trial judge could  have  narrowed the time period  to  some  extent.  criminal  trial  is  not  public  inquiry  into jail management. A more focused  time range,  of  say  two  or  three  years  around the date of the offence could well  have  been  sufficient.  The  trial  judge’s  failure to conclude that the  records  were  likely relevant  was  clearly  wrong. This error is sufficient to require  a new  trial.

E.                 DISPOSITION

[59] In light of these two errors,  both of  which  justify  new  trial,  it  is  not necessary to address whether another group  of  documents sought  by  the  appellant should or should not have  been  ordered  produced  for  inspection  by  the  trial judge.

 [60]    Accordingly,   for   these   reasons,   I   would   allow  the   appeal,   set aside  the conviction  and  order  a new trial.

Released:   November   13, 2015

“G. Pardu J.A.” “I agree Alexandra Hoy  A.C.J.O” “I agree  K.M.  Weiler J.A.”

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