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Environmental investigators are not allowed to seize private documents unless they have prior judicial authorization (i.e., a search warrant) or the consent of the owner of the documents. However, this does not always stop them. One feature of my current trial was an attempt by a Ministry of the Environment investigator to introduce into evidence documents that he had seized outside the scope of the search warrant. The investigator claimed that the company president had given him a blank cheque, permitting him to seize any documents he wished, whether inside or outside the warrant. Unsurprisingly, company evidence was exactly the opposite.

In his Ruling on voir dire, June 7, 2010, Justice Mackey ruled that the documents were not admissible, since the Crown could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the company president had consented to their seizure. He did not believe that any careful company executive, having consulted legal counsel, would give such a blank cheque. Accordingly, the documents were excluded. The charge based on the illegally seized documents was dropped.

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