I’m so glad you could join us today. I want to talk to you today about crown disclosure and principally about bad character evidence. So the witnesses for the Crown they can be civilian witnesses or they can be police witnesses, of course, and the crown has an obligation to provide us with full disclosure, which includes any dirt on the person, if I might put it that way. For example, a witness might have a criminal record, which has to be disclosed to us and that can be used to affect their credibility as a witness, their witness might also have other bad character evidence that they might be, for example, a known drug dealer there might be police reports about that, etc… which did not necessarily result in criminal conviction but the Crown’s is in possession of that evidence. Now, one of the key things on this is also police disciplinary records.
So you’ve all heard in the paper apolice officers been disciplined for bad conduct while on the police force, maybe the beat up a prisoner or assaulted someone, etc… Those are called McNeal reports. So when the crown provides us with disclosure, the police are supposed to do a complete search and provide us with all bad character evidence, including McNeil reports, A McNeil report is basically let’s say officer Baker, had a disciplinary proceeding five years ago was found a police misconduct and was suspended for five months from the police force. Well, we have to know that. Well how can we use this evidence? So let’s say it’s an assault trial, and let’s say that officer has disciplinary hearings for using excessive force in the past, and we’re claiming excessive force so we can cross examine them to suggest well, you use excessive force against your client you did in the past and you’re, you’re have a disposition to do that.
Same thing with witnesses. We may have a crown witness who’s got to use an extreme example and I’ve seen this 30 past theft convictions. That goes to their credibility as a witness and how can a judge you believe someone who’s a career criminal, say your client is given a jailhouse confession to somebody who’s been convicted of murder has 20 assault conviction. 32 Theft convictions. Well, how can you believe that witness? So that’s called bad character evidence? The crown is supposed to provide that to us. It’s very important when we’re running a file that we write the crown and ask them if there’s any bad character evidence, provide us with the McNeil reports. We don’t just rely on them volunteering to provide that although they’re supposed to. But we have to be diligent in pursuing it. So in many cases that our lawyers including myself have done over the years. This evidence has been pivotal in terms of being able to win a case because ultimately, if the crowns witnesses consist of career criminals, well how can you believe such a person the jury is going to be told that they’re a person of bad previous character, and they’re actually going to be given a warning.
It’s called a vetrovec V E T R O V E C, I believe, warning where there warned, look at this person has an unsavory background. And you members of the jury, or myself as a judge, I need to charge myself that, you know, we have to be very careful about accepting their evidence unless it’s confirmed by other evidence. Same thing with a police officer who has multi-disciplinary suspensions, for example, for excessive force. Well, you know, you may not be able to trust that officer on the witness stand. And these reports are very helpful to us in defending many of our cases over the years. So that’s bad character evidence. It goes to credibility of a Crown of witnesses, and we can use that as defense lawyers to challenge the Crowns case that their witnesses are, are not believable, that’s credible, and just lacked veracity so that there are a reasonable doubt it should be found in a particular case.