A Vancouver Law firm says the appeal process for accused drunk drivers is rigged in order to protect the provincial government DUI laws — and it has the documents to prove it.
“You have to wonder if anybody has had a fair hearing because you just don’t know,” says Paul Doroshenko with Acumen Law, after an FOI request returned documents showing the provincial government pressures the adjudicator on how to rule.
“This calls into question the integrity of the government to a level you are rarely going to see in modern Canadian history.”
Doroshenko says the province went to court to try and get the paperwork back and lost. But that wasn’t all.
“They also asked the judge for an order to keep us from being able to defend our clients. We had figured it out and the last thing they wanted was for us to be able to continue to defend our clients knowing that the system is rigged, which is really shocking. It is absolutely disgusting and its hard to believe that this takes place, but this all took place within the Attorney General’s ministry and the Justice ministry.”
He says his firm is out tens of thousands of dollars from hiring interim outside legal help for their clients.
“I don’t know what is going to happen. I don’t how they can handle it. Disband the tribunal? Set up something new? I think that there should be an inquiry. We are going to be writing to the Ombudsperson to ask for an investigation. You have to think that all of those people who paid their money for their hearing — that they have got to be wondering whether or not they got their value for money. Did they take their money, purportedly for a legitimate review hearing, and the people didn’t get it?”
Acumen Law says the fallout from this will be absolutely huge, including putting into question the tribunal process itself.
Kyla Lee. a lawyer with Acumen, says it also puts into question every single decision it’s made in its six years of existence.
She says there’s no question there are people who have been convicted of drunk driving, appealed, lost and now have suffered a driving prohibition and harsh ongoing punishment, including thousands of dollars in fines and associated costs.
“I don’t think it is a possibility, there is a certainty there are people out there who have been wrongly given immediate roadside prohibitions, that have been wrongly upheld on review because of the way these cases have been decided.”
Lee says anyone who thinks they were wrongfully convicted needs to dig out all the behind-the-scenes documents of their case.
“But I also think the government owes its citizens the responsibility to conduct an inquiry into the extent of this. To look through all of the emails that have been sent and to identify those cases where an injustice was done. Where cases were not decided for the facts, but were decided for political considerations.”
She’s calling on the province to own up to the mistake and make it right.
Every case now in jeopardy
The NDP says it’s not calling for government heads to roll — yet — amid allegations the Provincial government has rigged the appeal process for people accused of drunk driving.
Leonard Kroge — the opposition critic for the Attorney General, says every case where someone has been penalized is now in jeopardy.
“We’re talking about the possibility of hundreds of appeals, being set aside, and frankly, if the allegations are true they should be set aside.”
“If they are true and the documentary evidence is there to support it, it is not in accordance with the rights that all of us should enjoy under the constitution and at law generally.”
Doroshenko says the documents can’t be released to the public before 30 days have passed where the government can appeal a court decision rejecting its attempt to quash those documents.