Adam Blake-Gallipeau, a lawyer with The Democracy Fund, told Rebel News on Friday that a judge's acceptance of all requested witnesses by the prosecution in a criminal trial reduces the availability of potential grounds for appeal by the Crown, in the event of the government seeking to challenge not guilty decisions against those it has charged.
Blake-Gallipeau's remarks were made in the context of the trial of Chris Barber and Tamara Lich, two Freedom Convoy organizers who are being charged with mischief, intimidation, obstruction of police, and counselling others to commit mischief, intimidation and obstruction of police.
Blake-Gallipeau was present in the courtroom for the entirety of the trial's fourth week.
Justice Heather Perkins-McVey – the judge presiding over the trial – denied Lich's defence team's request to preclude a series of witnesses, who are all Ottawa residents claiming to have been harmed by the Freedom Convoy and its demonstrators, from testifying.
Lawrence Greenspon, the lead attorney representing Lich, submitted admissions acknowledging that some Ottawans had been intimidated and harmed during the Freedom Convoy, such as being late for work, appointments, or being denied full access and abilities to use their property.
Greenspon also acknowledged that mischief had been committed by unspecified persons during the peaceful demonstration. He requested the series of witnesses be prevented from testifying given that their testimony would become irrelevant and redundant in light of his admissions on behalf of his client.
Rebel News asked Blake-Gallipeau about the possible impact of the judge's denials of Greenspon's request.
"What defence essentially did was [make] an admission under Section 655, which basically was that – generally speaking – there was mischief that occurred during the convoy," Blake-Gallipeau explained.
Lich's defence team's admission would "obviate" the need for these witnesses to testify, according to Greenspon.
"On Wednesday, Justice Perkins-McVey stated that she's going to dismiss the application and allow these eight witnesses to testify. So, on its face, it doesn't look great. From a defense perspective, that doesn't necessarily look like it's okay.
"But what does that do? What is the sort of long-term potential effect of that? Well, it sort of reduces the ability of the Crown to then later appeal on grounds that they were not able to – in a fulsome way – present their case the way they wanted to present it."
The first witness of the trial's fourth week was Constable Craig Barlow, an Ottawa Police Service officer working in its cyber and digital unit. He was tasked with producing a video montage of footage compiled primarily from body cameras worn by police officers on the ground in Ottawa dealing with the Freedom Convoy. This video compilation was played as part of the prosecution's opening statement on the trial's first day.
Diane Magas, the lead attorney representing Chris Barber, cross-examined Barlow and challenged his selection process for video clip inclusion in his montage. Magas played a selfie video produced by Barber and published to his TikTok account during the Freedom Convoy demonstration praising the peaceful nature of the protesters and urging demonstrators to be compliant with and congenial towards law enforcement.
Barlow's video montage was "showing protesters in the negative light, as opposed to the protesters in a positive light," Blake-Gallipeau observed of the editorial outcome of Barlow's choices.
"It seemed that the majority of that compilation video [presented] protesters in a negative light at the exclusion of the positive videos," he added.
Rebel News noted the prosecution's then-planned use of Chantal Biro, an Ottawa resident who is a party in a $290 million class-action lawsuit against Barber, Lich, and others – as a witness testifying to harms she would say she suffered due to Freedom Convoy demonstrators.
The invitation of witnesses invested in a class-action lawsuit against the two codefendants "is important because it potentially … shows a bias," Blake-Gallipeau assessed.
"Now, these witnesses have an interest in the outcome of this case because it potentially could bolster the civil case that they are plaintiffs in," Blake-Gallipeau said.
The majority of these eight civilian witnesses are involved in something that is not this criminal trial, but is directly related to it, and they could have a beneficial interest [in guilty verdicts]."
The defence counsels, he said, can "infer bias" among the civilian witnesses who are parties to the class-action lawsuit against their clients. Such implication of bias, he concluded, might diminish the witnesses' credibility.