Dismissal Requested In Documents Case

Source: Globe and Mail
Date: November 17, 1984

A Supreme Court of Ontario judge has been asked to dismiss criminal contempt of court charges brought against two Ontario Government lawyers by the Church of Scientology of Toronto.

J. J. Robinette, representing the two lawyers, told Mr. Justice John Cromarty yesterday that there was no evidence to convict his clients over the release of certain church documents in police hands to another Government lawyer.

Judge Cromarty will not make a decision until he hears from the church's lawyers.

The church is asking the court to cite Casey Hill, a lawyer with the Ministry of the Attorney- General, and Jerome Cooper, a lawyer with the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Church lawyers have argued that the two men breached an earlier Supreme Court order over the release of church documents to Rosemarie Drapkin, Ontario's deputy registrar- general.

The church's lawyers have argued that Mrs. Drapkin received 89 church documents from the Ontario Provincial Police, including one for which legal privilege had already been granted by a court. The deputy registrar- general sought access to the documents as part of her investigation into a church application that it be allowed to perform marriages.

The documents were among 200,000 seized by the OPP in a March, 1983, raid on the church's Yonge Street headquarters as part of an investigation into alleged fraudulent activities in connection with courses offered to the public. No charges have yet been laid.

Almost immediately after the raid, the church asked the courts to seal many of the documents on the grounds that they were communications between solicitors and clients or priests and penitents and ought to be confidential.

Several interim sealing orders - the latest on July 11 - have been issued while these claims of privilege have been argued in the courts.

On July 30, Mrs. Drapkin and her counsel, Mr. Cooper, were successful in persuading Mr. Justice John Sirois of the Supreme Court to allow her to see the seized church documents - without the knowledge of the church. In addition, Judge Sirois was not told of the sealing orders.

But David Doherty, who is also representing Mr. Hill and Mr. Cooper, said yesterday that lawyers for the church have presented no evidence to show that Mrs. Drapkin received the actual documents that were sealed.

He argued that Mrs. Drapkin actually received copies of the sealed documents and that the sealing system approved by the church made it impossible to match the contents.

Mr. Doherty said these may have been copies of duplicates made by the police and accountants before church staff began selecting the documents for its claims of privilege.

In addition, Mr. Doherty said there may have been multiple copies of certain documents in the church's files at the time of the police raid and that not all copies were identified for claims of privilege.

He argued that the earlier court orders "spoke to certain specific documents under seal and nothing else. If it turns out (Mrs. Drapkin) got copies of documents prior to assertion of privilege, that is not a breach of the court order. "It's almost akin to a murder case where there's been no proof of homicide," Mr. Doherty said.

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