Quebec wants Supreme Court to rule on ‘secret trial’
To shed light on the merits of this case, Quebec has asked the Supreme Court to look into the famous “secret trial” and to slightly open the curtain that obscures it.
The Supreme Court will not necessarily hear it, but Quebec submitted the case to it to convince it. The highest court in the land hears cases when they present a question of new law or when the case is of national interest, among other reasons.
A media group, including The PressRadio-Canada, La Presse canadienne and the Coops de l’information dailies have also recently asked him to look into it.
The existence of this shadow trial was revealed in March by a judgment of the Court of Appeal. The latter had then pronounced a stay of proceedings in a case involving a police informant who, for an unknown reason, found herself accused of a crime… which she had apparently herself denounced. The bench of three judges had also issued confidentiality orders and the sealing of the proceedings, notes and documents of the case.
The Court was shocked that this trial was held in the greatest secrecy, out of sight.
No case number, no name of the judge or lawyers who argued the case. Even the name of the judicial district where the case took place is kept in shadow and under padlock. Without this judgment of the Court of Appeal, we would not even have known that he had indeed held. And again, the public only got snippets of information.
A shocking opacity
Many were indignant at this opaque way of proceeding. Among them were the media, the Minister of Justice Simon Jolin-Barrette and the Chief Justice of the Court of Quebec, Lucie Rondeau.
Despite their requests, the Court of Appeal had refused in July to reveal more information on this criminal prosecution brought against the police informant. However, no one demanded to know his name. « There can be no question of disclosing any information likely to identify ‘Designated Person’ at the risk of putting him or her in danger », ruled the Court of Appeal.
It is this second judgment – partly redacted – that Quebec wants to appeal to the Supreme Court.
He wants the highest court in the country to order the Court of Appeal to partially remove the seals placed on the file, because “no trace of the first instance trial exists. »
« The Court of Appeal erred in not doing so, in a context where it denounces ex officio a significant violation of the principle of the publicity of (judicial) proceedings », is it written in the brief of the Quebec government. filed with the Registry of the Supreme Court.
This judgment raised significant questions and concerns among the Quebec population, and “damaged public confidence in the administration of justice,” adds Quebec.
All information that is not likely to allow the identification of a police informer must be made public, he insists in his brief.
The Court of Appeal had however already responded to this argument: every detail, even those that appear trivial, is likely to allow its identification – and therefore cannot be revealed.
It may be months before the Supreme Court announces whether its justices will hear the appeal in order to strike the balance to be struck between the public interest and the protection of police informants — necessary for the crime solving.
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