NEWS

Richard Oland search warrants head back to court

10/29/2012 09:28 EDT | Updated 12/29/2012 05:12 EST
Search warrants related to the Richard Oland murder investigation are heading back to court.

CBC News and the Telegraph-Journal are seeking to have a publication ban on the names of people who were subject to police searches lifted.

The media outlets have applied to the Court of Queen’s Bench for a judicial review of provincial court Chief Judge R. Leslie Jackson’s decision.

They are also arguing to have four more search warrants and related documents unsealed, citing the judge’s decision as grounds, but have not yet filed a formal application.

On Sept. 28, following a lengthy legal battle by the media outlets, Jackson ruled that additional details from seven search warrant documents related to the 15-month-old investigation of the prominent businessman’s death should be made public.

He said there was "no legal basis" to keep much of the information contained in the documents secret, and that police "had not demonstrated a serious and specific risk to the investigative integrity of the investigation."

But Jackson imposed a publication ban on the names of the individuals searched, as well as any information that would identify them.

Erred in decision

Lawyers representing the media outlets will argue Jackson erred in his decision by exceeding his jurisdiction and by contradicting case law.

The lawyers will also argue that testimony given behind closed doors by lead investigator Const. Stephen Davidson should be transcribed in full for the court’s consideration.

The estate of Oland and his family, his son, Dennis Oland, the Saint John Police Force and the Attorney General of New Brunswick are listed as the respondents in the latest court proceedings.

No responses have yet been filed.

The matter is expected to be scheduled for early next year, likely in mid-February.

It is unclear if the hearing will be public, or whether there will be any restrictions on publications.

Sealing 'not sustainable at law'

Oland, 69, was found dead in his uptown Saint John office on July 7, 2011. No charges have been laid.

The previously-released documents do not say how Oland died or whether any weapon was involved, but do indicate that police have a suspect in mind and hint at a possible financial motive.

The documents also reveal strained family relationships and the fact that Oland had a longtime mistress.

There are four additional search warrants related to the case, including two issued by the Court of Queen’s Bench and two issued by provincial court subsequent to the initial legal battle by CBC News and the Telegraph-Journal.

All four warrants and related documents remain sealed, despite the fact that they were executed and items were seized.

“The Sept. 28, 2012 decision of Chief Judge Jackson sets forth the law in New Brunswick with respect to the propriety/scope of sealing orders generally, and in particular, in reference to the murder of Mr. Richard Oland,” media lawyer David Coles wrote in a letter to the Crown.

“The ongoing complete sealing of these four warrants and the associated documents is not sustainable at law,” he said.

If the Crown does not agree to unseal the documents, the media outlets will apply to the courts for an unsealing order and will seek costs, Coles said.

Search warrants are normally public documents.

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