Christie Blatchford: Ex-cop’s impartiality as expert witness questioned as gasoline vegetation trial starts

Christie Blatchford: Ex-cop’s impartiality as expert witness questioned as gasoline vegetation trial starts


TORONTO — In the very same Old City Corridor courtroom the place law firm Marie Henein after tossed bombshell following bombshell in her thriving defence of Jian Ghomeshi, her regulation partner Scott Hutchison Friday delivered one of his own.

Hutchison was cross-analyzing Robert Gagnon, the prosecution’s proposed laptop or computer expert, on the 1st working day of the so-named gasoline vegetation trial.

Gagnon retired from the Ontario Provincial Law enforcement in 2009 as the force’s leader of the e-crime portion and laptop or computer forensic expert. He was re-hired by the OPP in Might of 2014 on an untendered contract to function as a specialized analyst in the gasoline vegetation probe.

Hutchison represents Laura Miller, previous deputy chief of employees to previous premier Dalton McGuinty, who with previous chief of employees David Livingston, is pleading not responsible to breach of have faith in, mischief in relation to data and unauthorized use of a laptop or computer. The two are alleged to have deliberately ruined paperwork at the incredibly time the McGuinty governing administration was beneath escalating pressure to generate paperwork linked to the controversial cancellation of the two gasoline vegetation in Oakville and Mississauga.

Hutchison diligently created up a case demonstrating that Gagnon was also deeply concerned in the OPP investigation, dubbed Task Hampden, to be “sufficiently impartial and impartial” to give his impression.

Unlike other witnesses, all those who are skilled by the courtroom as “experts” are allowed to give impression evidence.

That’s exactly what Hutchison and Brian Gover, who represents Livingston, never want him to do.


Laura Miller, ex-deputy chief of employees to previous Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty, arrives at courtroom with her law firm Scott Hutchison in Toronto on Sept. 22, 2017.

THE CANADIAN Push/Colin Perkel

A 2017 case named R v McManus from the Ontario Court of Attraction suggests that whilst police can of system testify as authorities, they should not also be acting as investigators. And a 2015 Supreme Court of Canada case spells out that expert witnesses really should be impartial and impartial.

Hutchison said the defence was not quibbling with Gagnon’s qualifications – he has the teaching and encounter – but rather that his enmeshment into the investigative workforce compromised his impartiality.

About 30 moments, Hutchison designed the stroll from the defence bench to the witness box to demonstrate Gagnon email messages he’d despatched or been despatched by OPP officers functioning the case.

Painstakingly, he created his argument that Gagnon was “a component of the workforce.”

He showed that, as a retired cop, Gagnon labored more several hours than he could be paid for as a previous general public servant (Gagnon agreed he had “donated” time to the case) that he’d various moments offered viewpoints for detectives functioning the case that he’d participated in several convention phone calls with workforce leaders and Crown prosecutors and that he had even participated in particular person in the execution of a search warrant carried out on the Ontario government’s cyber stability department.

But Hutchison, as fantastic legal professionals do, saved his bombshell for his very last question.


David Livingston, co-accused along with Laura Miller in the Ontario gasoline plant trial.

Tyler Anderson/NP

1st, he proven that the investigation into Miller and Livingston was early on considered by the police in demand to be a breach of have faith in case.

“Yes sir,” said Gagnon.

“That changes as a result of some data from you, does not it?” Hutchison questioned.

“Yes,” said Gagnon.

On Feb. 22, 2015, Hutchison said, “You compose to the leaders of the investigation proposing a diverse demand?”

“Different or more, of course,” said Gagnon, agreeing that he had pointed out the more demand – mischief in relation to data — provided his own principle of what had happened, and even spelled out the appropriate portion of the Felony Code.

Miller and Livingston weren’t billed until eventually December 2015 and, when they had been, the “mischief to data” demand was there.

“Those are my concerns,” Hutchison said, and sat down.

The legal professionals won’t make arguments on the difficulty until eventually Monday.

It’s unquestionably feasible that senior prosecutor Tom Lemon will be ready to persuade the decide that most of Gagnon’s involvement is due to the truth that he possesses highly specialized specialized expertise, and that his abilities was expected by investigators as they conducted search warrants and interviews.

It’s also obvious from his working day in the witness stand that Gagnon is not prickly or combative, but rather agreeable and uncomplicated.

He was unfailingly civil.

But his presence at the execution of one of the OPP search warrants and his admission that he was fundamentally volunteering unpaid time to the case elevate significant concerns about his neutrality as an expert.

Lemon acknowledged this when he explained to the decide, who has promised a selection future Wednesday, that “your ruling is essential in terms of the case, and it does have effects.”

Prosecutors allege, as Sarah Egan said in an opening statement Friday in advance of the voir dire into Gagnon’s purpose began, that this trial isn’t about “an inadvertent failure to preserve documents” but “the intentional destruction of data for the reason of thwarting the public’s appropriate to accountability and transparency.”

Emails, she said, will demonstrate that Livingston instructed his employees how to “double delete” email messages so that “there was very little obtainable to be turned above both to a Legislative committee or in response to an FOI (Independence of Data) request.”

And Livingston did this, she alleged, regardless of a stern warning from Dave Nicholl, chief data officer for Ontario, that he really should preserve e mail accounts and data linked to the gasoline vegetation difficulty.

The incredibly future 7 days, Egan said, the 3rd get together hired by Livingston and Miller, Miller’s husband or wife Peter Faist, “began wiping the challenging drives.”

• Email: [email protected] | Twitter: blatchkiki



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