Pubdate: Thu, 08 Sep 2016
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Copyright: 2016 The Edmonton Journal
Author: Claire Theobald
Page: A6


Officers' 'privacy interests' cited in failure to produce key

After an Edmonton judge blamed federal Crown prosecutors and the
Edmonton Police Service for an "extreme delay" that led to charges
against an alleged drug dealer being set aside, Edmonton police argued
Wednesday they need to balance their officers' privacy against their
duty to disclose.

"There's a balancing act that has to take place between the disclosure
of police disciplinary records and the privacy interests of police
officers in those employment records," Edmonton police spokesperson
Patrycia Thenu said in a brief written statement, adding she couldn't
comment on specific cases.

"We strive to make the correct decision in each and every case, in
accordance with the guidance provided by the Supreme Court of Canada."

Court of Queen's Bench Justice Dawn Pentelechuk stayed charges against
Stephen Lam, 34, as it would have been 55 months since Lam was first
charged by the time his trial could be completed, calling the delay a
"clearly unreasonable" breach of his Charter right to trial within a
reasonable time.

Lam was facing multiple charges, including possession of cocaine,
ecstasy and marijuana for the purposes of trafficking.

Pentelechuk accused the Crown of taking a "complacent attitude"
towards disclosing police disciplinary reports that had been requested
by the defence, after three police officers in Lam's case were facing
either disciplinary proceedings or criminal charges related to alleged
steroid trafficking.

Pentelechuk said Crown prosecutors "inexplicably failed" to provide
the required disclosure.

The judge said Edmonton police "did the Crown no favours" by providing
inaccurate information, and - unlike other Canadian jurisdictions -
have not adopted a comprehensive protocol for handing over police
documents to the Crown.

These issues, coupled with delays caused by a lack of government
resources needed to keep up with the current caseload in Alberta's
justice system, contributed to the unacceptable delay in Lam's case,
Pentelechuk said.
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