Oland homicide search warrants back before court
Crown seeks to extend sealing order
Crown prosecutors plan to seek a court order that search warrants connected to the Richard Oland homicide investigation remain sealed for another six months.
The current sealing order, imposed by Chief Judge R. Leslie Jackson, is set to expire on June 15.
CBC News and the Telegraph-Journal intend to fight the request to extend the sealing order, arguing that it’s "unacceptable," said lawyer David Coles.
"In this country judicial transparency is the rule, not the exception. So the Crown has to show exceptional circumstances and at this point, I don’t know what those might be," he told CBC News.
"I mean this is a major, disturbing event that happened in an intimate community to one of the leaders of that community and there’s a decided public interest in knowing what’s going on."
Oland, a prominent Saint John businessman, was found dead in his office on July 7.
Saint John Police confirmed the 69-year-old's death was a homicide and said he likely knew his killer, but almost a year later, have refused to give many more details about the investigation.
Warrants are normally public documents, but can be sealed by a judge.
A court date for the hearing has not yet been set.
Order dates back to December
The Crown obtained the current sealing order in December.
Prosecutors successfully argued the five search warrants and production order in question contain "hallmark" forensic information and releasing them could jeopardize the investigation.
The judge said he was satisfied the documents contain information that only the person or persons responsible for Oland's death would know, including details about the condition of his body.
Jackson also said releasing the information could compromise the privacy of numerous persons.
But Coles isn't convinced the Crown can successfully convince the judge again.
"The last time he was persuaded to make the order to continue the sealing order for six months, but the six months is up and here we are again. And I think for our clients and their viewership and audience, that’s troubling," Coles said.
"The people the exhibits were seized from — I mean, they know what’s seized. One is left with who are we protecting the information from other than just the citizens in the community."
Police searched the Rothesay home of Oland's son, Dennis Oland on July 14, a nearby wooded area by the Bill McGuire Community Centre on July 15, and a sailboat co-owned by Dennis Oland's wife, Lisa Oland, moored at the Royal Kennebeccasis Yacht Club in Saint John on July 21.
Details about other search warrants and a production order executed in the case are now under a publication ban.