Crown faces challenge in giving former A-G a fair trial

Bryant hires lawyer; Ontario may bring in out-of-province judge to avoid bia

Jill Colvin

From Friday's Globe and Mail

Michael Bryant announced Thursday that he has chosen Toronto lawyer Marie Henein to go head-to-head against Vancouver star attorney Richard Peck in his high-stakes trial on charges in the death of cyclist Darcy Allan Sheppard.

The showdown is set to be one of the most explosive in recent memory as two of the country's top lawyers grapple with how a high-profile former politician with a glittering reputation who happens to be a former Ontario attorney-general can get a fair trial.

Ms. Henein isn't new to the game. She is best known for defending former NHL agent David Frost against sexual-exploitation charges stemming from his time as a junior-league coach, and currently represents Marcia Dooley in the appeal of a nearly-decade-old conviction for the beating death of her seven-year-old son.

Mr. Peck, who has been retained by the Ministry of the Attorney-General of Ontario as a special prosecutor, successfully defended Ajaib Singh Bagri on murder charges in the high-profile Air India trial. He has served as a special prosecutor on numerous cases, some of them involving high-profile politicians.

“He's the go-to guy for these types of cases in B.C.,” said Mike Tammen, a Vancouver criminal lawyer and Mr. Peck's former legal partner. “It's only a matter of which side gets to him first.”

But as the Crown begins to build its case against a former top legal player in the province, maintaining the appearance of objectivity is going to be a challenge, criminal lawyers and legal experts say.

“The authorities will have to work very hard to make sure that it's completely transparent,” said Christopher Sherrin, a professor of criminal law at the University of Western Ontario and former part-time assistant Crown attorney. “They don't want it to seem like there's any favouritism.”

Finding an unbiased prosecutor was the first challenge in preparing to try Mr. Bryant, who, as attorney-general, was the boss of most of the people currently working as Crown prosecutors in the province, said Phil Downes, a Toronto criminal lawyer and former counsel with the Crown Law Office.

Outsourcing is standard practice in cases involving lawyers, judges, politicians or high-ranking police officers to prevent the appearance of bias, he said.

But just as the Crown has hired an out-of-province prosecutor, experts say an outsider judge may also be needed.

At this point, it is unknown whether Mr. Bryant will choose to have his case heard in the Superior Court of Justice, where judges are federally appointed, or the Ontario Court of Justice, where Mr. Bryant appointed every judge confirmed on his watch.

Lawyers agreed that there is no chance the prosecution would allow the case to be tried by a judge Mr. Bryant approved.

Most of the court's judges were appointed before or after Mr. Bryant served and would have had “virtually no contact” with him, said Osgoode Hall Law School criminal law expert Allan Young, who also taught Mr. Bryant.

Still, he said, to avoid any appearance of bias, an out-of-province judge may be chosen.

Lawyers also wonder whether other factors might be at play.

Mr. Downes said some worry that police will be more favourable to Mr. Bryant in their investigation because, as attorney-general, he passed laws that police favoured, including a crackdown on street racing.

“They will need to be ultracareful in conducting a fair investigation,” he said.

But with all of the efforts to ensure the appearance of impartiality, some also wonder whether officials will unconsciously prosecute more vigorously.

“They bend over the other way, they overcompensate,” said veteran Toronto defence lawyer Michael Morse, who himself faced trial several years ago.

“I do not envy Mr. Bryant,” he said.




Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre

First, The Globe & Mail is to be congratulated on at least allowing this story open for comments. The other newspaper has very conveniently published all the Nagigator spin.

Readers should not be fooled by the incredible effort that Bryant's very expensive spin doctors have made. Its reflected in dam near every story published.

Readers should not take any notice of the "Thumbs up, or the Thumbs down".Bryant has experts who can not only change those figures but write extremely creatively, deviously with a goal of manipulating public opinion, damage control and a repeat of their efforts to "rehabilitate" the reputation of Mulroney despite his obvious criminality.

Its a symptom of those with money influence and power. If you have money, you can buy "justice", if you have money, you can deprive and defraud those in society who do not and get a way with it, simply by nature of who you are in society and the money you can splash around to abuse others.

Bryant is a classic symbol of that absolute abuse of power and authority, he represents the Ontario Legal Cartel, he is responsible for PREVENTING PUBLICITY of many legal decisions that would otherwise be embarrassing to those with the absolute power in society, who flagrantly abuse that power.

Bryant's sudden interest in publicity and its manipulation, is nothing new.

Gobbles laid out the manuals, and the modern version has several twists. Perhaps the most important principle of Ontario Justice with regards to publicity is to "Treat em like mushrooms and feed them ex-crement."

We see that, or rather We Don't See those very important legal decisions that have all the dirt or more importantly, the lack of dirt, the sensitization of the very worst abuses in society by those in the group with power at the top of society where Bryant is very much was and is , in control.

It's also a massive insult to justice, an insult to the intelligence of the Citizens of Ontario.


Typo -, Under Bryant, some of the worst legal abuses in Ontario have been "Sanitized" (not sensitization... duh...)

There are many other posters on this forum who can describe Ontario's censorship of anything that embarrass the legal cartel for whom, Bryant was charged with protecting.

Just one problem. Bryant is also a loose cannon, a cowboy volatile personality that is unlikely to change.


1,2,3 The Larry O'Brian case had a judge who who still has his name hanging on his law firm's shingle, a firm riddled with political connections, former politicians and a firm who make it quite clear, they have those connections , even one with Justice Cunningham whose name still hangs there, a very obvious improper advertisement.

Cunningham engaged in a classic example of the process of justification, he made the evidence fit his conclusions.

We can expect exactly the same in the Bryant case, it will NOT be a legal decision but a political decision to put on a pretense of "justice" that only exists for those with money power and influence in Ontario.

It's getting worse, the abuses are getting more blatant and its a slippery slide into a lawless society for those who are not connected or don't have a six figure income, that is those with money declare those without to be criminals and succeed mot of the time.

It's Ontario's pathetic attitude to justice that makes it one of the most corrupt legal jurisdictions in the world.

If you are thinking of emigrating to Canada. Ontario is one place to avoid.