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Frontline Information Service - Update 12/12/02

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BC Supreme Court Quashes RCMP Search Warrant

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North American A.L.F. Press Office

Contact: David Barbarash, 250-703-6312

A Search Warrant obtained by the RCMP in July 2002 to raid the Courtenay, BC home of animal rights activist David Barbarash on behalf of U.S. law enforcement has been quashed by BC Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett.

The ruling was handed down today, almost one full month since the hearing took place.

The search warrant was issued in relation to Animal Liberation Front activity in the state of Maine in 1999, where minor property offences occurred totaling $8700 in damages. Seized from Barbarash's residence were two computers, dozens of computer disks, approx. 100 video tapes on social justice issues and alternative media, as well as papers and documents.

Madam Justice Bennett, in a 28-paragraph written decision, stated that the evidence which purportedly backed the issuing of the search warrant, a solitary photocopied newspaper article, was not sufficient as it amounted to "triple hearsay." Additionally, Bennett ruled that the information was unreliable.

A hearing to decide on the transfer of the seized property to the USA will be held in 2003. The Attorney General of Canada will argue that the property should still be sent to U.S. law enforcement despite it being obtained illegally and improperly. Barbarash will argue for it's immediate return.

The important paragraphs from the ruling follow. The entire ruling is available on request. Further information is available from David Barbarash at 250-703-6312.

[19] The primary evidence upon which the information to obtain is based is a newspaper article and a conversation between the American police officer and the journalist. The press release referred to in the information to obtain is not appended to the affidavit. There is no affirmation that the journalist is reliable or of any reference supporting his reliability. The information is triple hearsay: purportedly from Mr. Barbarash (either by conversation or just by a press release) to Mr. Hoey to Detective Sergeant Turcotte to Corporal Ross.

[21] Hearsay is not prohibited in an information to obtain. However, there must be sufficient information to satisfy the judge of the reliability of the information. Simple reliance on the last person in the chain of hearsay, here Corporal Ross, who personally has not deposed to knowing anything about the information held by Mr. Hoey does not provide the Court with the assurance that Mr. Hoey is reliable.

[23] The Canadian authorities are not obliged to investigate on behalf of the United States, however, some effort to independently confirm the contents of the affidavit to which the Canadian police officer is deposing is true would considerably enhance the reliability of the information to obtain when it is based on double and triple hearsay. Corporal Ross acted correctly in making the effort to confirm a residence for a person named David Barbarash.

[24] Without evidence supporting the reliability of the informant Mr. Hoey, there are no reasonable grounds to support the information to obtain.

[27] I conclude that the information to obtain does not contain reliable information upon which to base reasonable grounds for the search warrant. The search warrant is quashed.

[28] Counsel for the United States of America has requested that the application for transmission be heard separately from the application to quash the warrant. Therefore, the evidence seized will be retained by the authorities pending the submissions on transmission of the evidence to the United States of America.

Citation: RE: USA and Barbarash Date: 20021211

2002 BCSC 1721 Docket: BL0263

Registry: Vancouver

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North American Animal Liberation Front Press Office

***** The Voice of the A.L.F. *****

Spokesperson: David Barbarash

Email: naalfpo@tao.ca

Phone: 250-703-6312

Mailing Address: P.O.Box 3673,

Courtenay, BC

V9N 7P1 Canada

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