7. Regina v. N.S.N. [Provincial Court of Alberta, Calgary – June 2018]

In the Spring of 2016 the CPS Gang Enforcement Team (“GET”) targeted N.S.N. as a potential drug trafficker. After conducting protracted surveillance of N.S.N. the police came to associate him and his alleged drug trafficking activity with a condominium in Airdrie.

As part of the investigation the police installed a covert camera in the hallway just outside N.S.N.’s condominium – the police did not obtain judicial authorization to install the covert hallway camera. The state of the law across this Country regarding hallway cameras is “grey” at best and rather than obtaining prior judicial authorization the police sought the consent of the building manager to do the installation.

The covert hallway camera ran continuously (activated by movement) 24/7 over the course of several weeks. A subsequent review of hallway camera footage by the police revealed evidence which ultimately led to the issuance of a Warrant to Search the condominium. In the application to obtain the Warrant to Search the police relied heavily upon the hallway camera footage.

Patrick Fagan sought a ruling from the Court that the warrantless installation of the covert hallway camera violated the Section 8 Charter rights of N.S.N.; Patrick Fagan also sought a ruling that in the Court’s review of the validity of the Warrant to Search (the condominium) all reference to the covert hallway camera footage should be excised (deleted) from the Information to Obtain the Warrant to Search (“ITO”) vis a vis “sufficiency”.

Bottom Line: The Court ruled that the warrantless installation of the covert hallway camera was in violation of N.S.N.’s right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure as guaranteed by Section 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; the Court further ruled that all reference to the covert hallway camera footage in the “ITO” must be excised in a reviewing court’s consideration of whether or not the Warrant to Search the condominium should have issued in the first place. In light of this ruling the Crown conceded that the Warrant to Search the condominium was invalid and unconstitutional within the meaning of Section 8 of the Charter.

The only question that remains is whether, as a consequence of the foregoing, all evidence seized by the police from the condominium (a large quantity of cocaine and related drug trafficking paraphernalia) should be excluded from trial proceedings pursuant to Section 24(2) of the Charter. We will update the reader as to the results of that application in due course.

For a copy of the Reasons for Ruling on the Section 8 Charter Voir Dire (ie: the covert hallway camera installation) please click here.

Patrick Fagan

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