This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Accused's Charter Rights

"The officer drove by and recorded the license plates of a vehicle not for Highway Traffic Act purposes but because the vehicle was at a residence that had been associated with drugs. The officer knew the vehicle did not belong to the homeowner so he wanted to know who was there associating with a possible member of the drug underworld. This is why he parked four doors down, out of sight, hidden so that he could keep surveillance on the house to see who was coming and going from there.
"Despite the officer's protestations to the contrary, I do not accept that this stop had anything to do with Highway Traffic Act purposes. This was a drug investigation and not related to the Highway Traffic Act.
"It was to collect police intelligence on the coming and goings of possible illegal drug users."
Ontario Court Justice R.G. Selkirk

Sounds like a good piece of police sleuthing. Alas, this is not the script for a police-crime drug-busting novel on apprehending drug traffickers.  So Const. Dan Chartrand's police work on behalf of apprehending criminals was slammed by the law.  He was a patrol officer who had unlawfully detained a Canadian soldier, claiming he was operating under the authority of the Highway Traffic Act.  All the while meaning to investigate whether Matthew Moore was in possession of illegal drugs.

As it happens, he appears to have been in possession of drugs for personal use when he was stopped on April 14, 2012, after leaving a drug house known to Const. Chartrand from his stint with the drug squad four years earlier.  The police officer denied under oath that he had stopped Mr. Moore's vehicle on the basis of his having just left a known drug dealer's house. He had, of course, but knew that if he admitted to it, he would be found afoul of the law, and Judge Selkirk was aware of that fact.

It sounds perfectly logical and perfectly reasonable for Const. Chartrand to have intuited as he did, and reacted as he did. He is a police officer and in his profession, apprehending illegal and criminal activity is the order of his day. Although it would have seemed more to the point to have moved on the drug dealer himself, not necessarily his client, although perhaps the symbiosis makes it imperative that either end be looked to.

Const. Chartrand also testified that he recognized Mr. Moore's name in respect of "drug matters", when demanding to see his driver's license, which Mr. Moore was unable to supply. The licence plate number of the vehicle he was driving was registered to a woman reported AWOL from the Canadian forces. My, what a tangled web! When Mr. Moore extracted his wallet from a pocket in response to Constable Chartrand requiring i.d., a handful of OxyContin pills were discovered. And Mr. Moore was arrested.

The judge was not impressed. Ruling that the detaining and arrest of Mr. Moore was arbitrary, without reasonable grounds, trampling on his charter rights, to the extent that the evidence was to be excluded. Courts, said the judge cannot 'associate' with "police conduct that has been denounced as unlawful for years by the highest courts."  In addition to which: "The fact that the evidence is real, reliable and necessary does not outweigh the seriousness of the violation or the impact the police conduct had on Charter values. The common law police power did not authorize (Chartrand's) conduct. It is unlawful".

Groan. To the simple-minded observer, one not fortunate enough to be steeped in the letter of the law, it seems like one of those instances when the law is that veritable ass.

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