June 24th, 2024

Judge reluctantly allows Crown ‘expert’ after scolding the choice

By Peggy Revell on July 13, 2018.


prevell@medicinehatnews.com
@MHNprevell

A two-day cocaine trafficking trial included the judge chastising federal prosecution for using an expert witness whose connection to investigating officers raised the issue of biased testimony.

“You should not pick an expert like that for an expert opinion,” Judge J.C.M. Spence said Thursday at the Medicine Hat Provincial Court, as the Crown’s proposed expert on drug culture and terminology had until this year worked as an officer with the Medicine Hat Polic Service, including in the unit that investigated the accused’s arrest.

Spence ultimately accepted the officer as a suitable witness, but said the Crown needed to use more wisdom by using experts not as closely connected to investigating officers, as defence counsel argued for disqualification due to bias or appearance of bias toward police and Crown.

The trial for Stephen Rainville on a cocaine trafficking charge continues today.

According to police testimony on Thursday, investigation into the accused began January 2017 when police found a conversation about purchasing $600 of methamphetamine on the phone of a woman they arrested on meth trafficking charges.

The investigating officer testified to beginning a text conversation with this other number on a different phone, posing as the woman and saying she was using a friend’s phone. The officer attempted to arrange purchasing meth, but the person replying texted that they only had cocaine. The officer asked for a quarter ounce, but the individual said they only had one gram available. An exchange was arranged at the Medicine Hat Mall, with the individual texting that “his girl” would make the exchange.

At the exchange, police arrested the woman and found her in possession of 0.73 grams of cocaine. The accused was arrested while sitting in his vehicle outside, with an officer testifying he observed the accused using the cellphone later identified as the one which sent/received messages.

Two digital scales and empty dime bags were found in a box under the passenger’s seat.

Defence counsel’s cross-examination raised issues over the identity of who actually sent the text messages — the accused or his female companion, as officers testified to not having a verbal conversation with the individual they were texting, not obtaining a warrant to further analyze the phone, not fingerprinting the phone and not observing the accused make any of the texts.

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