A lawyer dissatisfied with inquiries about shootings in Nova Scotia as the deadline approaches

Eighteen months after a hearing was set up in Nova Scotia to investigate the worst mass shootings in Canada’s modern history, lawyers representing most of the 22 victims are slow-moving and have no witness testimony. He says he is worried about that.

“We are dissatisfied with the pace,” said a lawyer representing the family of Peter and Joybond, a retired couple in their 70s who were fatally shot at their home in Portapique, Nova Scotia on the night of April. Said Josh Bryson. 18th 2020.

Attorney Tara Miller said the investigation was time consuming, given the amount of evidence he hadn’t heard yet, as the three members of the investigation had less than six months to submit the final report to the federal and state governments. He said it was out of stock.

On April 19, Miller, on behalf of a relative of Kristen Beaton, a victim of a nurse and pregnant mother who was shot while sitting in a car in Debert, Nova Scotia, said: I am saying. 2020. “The calendar is packed tightly.”

So far, 21 witnesses have taken oath testimony in the investigation, but only nine RCMP police officers were involved in the 13-hour investigation of the murderer. More importantly, one senior mounty has not yet testified. The Commission has promised to have senior officers testify, but no date has been set.

“We feel we need real living witnesses,” Bryson said in a recent interview. “It’s the best form of evidence, participants have their own opinions and their own perspectives.”

As an example, Bryson quoted the testimony of firefighters Greg Muse and Darrell Curry last month. Their fire department was on NS Onslow and was full of ammunition when two RCMP police officers fired a man in the parking lot by mistake for a murderer.

“They testified about the disastrous details of the dying encounter in which the bullet was fired … and they evacuated there for 52 minutes … fearing their lives,” Bryson said. “It … wasn’t documented. It’s not at all. That’s why we need witnesses.”

Unlike most public investigations, the Mass Casualty Commission, launched in October 2020, is committed to producing a set of basic documents summarizing the evidence collected during the ongoing independent investigation. I have poured it.

This approach was adopted to help the Commission screen 50,000 documents, including records of over 100 witness interviews. This is a large compilation of evidence collected from 17 crime scenes, primarily in northern and central Nova Scotia.

Bryson said he understands that it takes too long to hear testimony from all witnesses. However, there is growing sentiment among participating lawyers that there are too few important witnesses.

Miller said her clients believe the investigation is overly dependent on basic documents except for raw testimony.

“For the credibility of this investigation, the credibility of the family, and the Canadians, we need to have verbal evidence under an oath that can be challenged and tested in cross-examination,” Aaron said. Miller, on behalf of Tuck’s relatives, said he was killed in Portapique with his partner Jolene Oliver and his daughter Emily Tuck.

Sandra McCulloch, a lawyer representing the family of 14 victims, said her clients were also concerned about “abuse of basic documents on behalf of live witnesses in testing evidence.” Told to.

Similarly, McCulloch said there was concern that some of the evidence presented was out of sync with the testimony of the relevant witnesses.

“We are resolutely working on our submission that we must be able to hear directly from the Witnesses and be able to ask them questions in a contextual way … Instead, we are some time ahead. “I’m being driven away,” she answered the question on April 13.

Last week, McCulloch told the Commission that the two-day discussion and testimony about RCMP’s communication with the general public “missed some important parts” because the cavalry involved would not face questions until a later date. Told.

The survey is also dissatisfied with the use of so-called roundtables and witness panels, and experts usually comment on a wider range of issues. These discussions tended to avoid specific references to the murderer’s rampage.

“This is a national mission-based survey, but it seems to be very far from what happened on April 18th and 19th, with a more academic focus,” Bryson said. I am. “When you discuss these policies, they can look like a family quite divorced from what they endured.”

Bryson said the lawyers involved in the investigation did a good job of putting together a huge amount of information, but he says excessive reliance on documents is a real problem.

“The process of generating basic documentation from untested evidence often doesn’t give us a comfortable level that we really have the best product,” he said. Told. “These are statements that no one has been cross-examined, challenged, or tested.”

This week, the investigation will publish a basic document on the role of the RCMP emergency response team and the determination of RCMP commands.

Michael McDonald

Canadian press