R. v. McCullough

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June 18, 1999

An Ontario Court of Appeal judge has permitted a Hamilton Spectator reporter to attend and report on an out-of-court cross-examination of a police officer on an affidavit that the Crown proposed to file to counteract earlier testimony in open court in the Perrin murder case. That earlier testimony was by two witnesses who recanted their previous trial testimony, suggesting police improprieties. The appeal was brought by an accused convicted of first degree murder and relies on fresh evidence from the two witnesses. The Crown opposed the reporter's application.

In appeals involving claims of fresh evidence in Ontario, affidavit material is proposed by a party, and the other side then cross-examines on it. The party then decides whether to go ahead and file it with the court. If so, it is filed with the transcript of the cross-examination in a sealed envelope, which is opened by the court prior to the appeal hearing. Because of this, the examination may not be viewed as being part of the judicial proceeding itself until it is filed. The examination is held in the offices of a court reporting service or other "private" place.

It is believed this is the first time an appeal court has ordered that a press representative could attend such an examination. The special facts of the case played an important role, especially since the police officer's affidavit responded to allegations of impropriety by the police and the use of inmate informants, reward money and the witness protection program.

Read the endorsement in R. v. McCullough - Endorsement

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