It took the attorney general’s office eight days to announce that it would be appealing those cop corruption charges that embarrassingly went poof last month.
Little did we know that a 17-point notice of appeal had already been drafted and formally filed when that announcement was made.
Quick work for a Crown law office that saw the raft of charges against six Toronto drug squad officers stayed because of what Justice Ian Nordheimer called the “glacial” pace at which the Crown disclosed evidence to the defence. The charges against the officers included conspiracy, obstruction of justice, perjury and theft.
The five-page appeal document makes no profound argument about the importance of the public interest being served by seeing serious criminal charges against police officers tried. It leaves that point to the very end.
Instead, the appeal focuses on blaming the defence for the four years it took the case to get to trial after the laying of charges.
It was police lawyers, the Crown claims, who objected to an earlier date for a preliminary hearing.
“Indeed, defence counsel expressly stated they wanted the trial to commence in September 2007 and not any time sooner,” the appeal says.
Few legal observers give the appeal any chance of success, given the strict legal rules around the time it should take for a case to get to trial. Eighteen months seems to be the acceptable maximum.
The appeal alludes to the enormity of the case but does not specifically suggest, as some legal observers have, that the courts should reconsider what delays it deems “reasonable” when it comes to complex cases.
But time is not on this case’s side.
Most noteworthy, perhaps, is the fact that the Crown has decided to drop one of the six officers, Richard Benoit, from its appeal. Of the six accused, Benoit faced the fewest charges, one count each of extortion and assault causing bodily harm.