Friday, September 11, 2009

Charter Rights and Privacy of Information

You Know It's Gone too Far When

This came out in June of this year, but I just didn't have the outrage saved up to blast it into submission at the time, so held off until now. It's not like it was going anywhere in a hurry.

Agnieska (Agnes) Wojtanowska is a few fries short of a Happy Meal. However, that doesn't mean that she is not sharp enough to profit from her own stupidity. Kinda short term dumb, long term smart, but mainly because our government is short term meddling, long term dumb.

Anyway, here's the nub of the start of our story:

On June 1, 2001 she delivered some photographs taken inside their residence to Black's Photography, located at the Bramalea City Centre, to be developed.

The photographs showed marijuana plants growing in the house. They also included "personal" photographs.

Employees of Black's turned copies of the developed photographs over to officers of the Peel Police Service before they gave the original photos to Wojtanowska. The Peel police then delivered the photographs to the Halton Regional Police Service.

A few days later, the Halton police executed a search warrant of the couple's house and seized the marijuana plants they found there.

Wojtanowska and Weil were charged with possession of marijuana, possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking, and production of marijuana.

It ends there, right? No, I told you she was short term dumb. It gets better for her, worse for the Halton Police Service:

The couple then brought a motion in Superior Court in Milton to exclude the fruits of the search from their trial, based on an allegation that their rights to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure guaranteed by Section 8 of the Charter were violated.

Their motion was granted and a few days later, all the charges were dismissed for lack of evidence.

The judge hearing the motion also ordered that the evidence seized under the warrant be returned.

Apparently, not all the photos were returned, so the couple brought another motion demanding return of the photographs in the possession of the police. The presiding judge ordered that these photographs be returned to the plaintiffs immediately.

She stated, "It is understandable that the applicants are dismayed about the missing photos ... as they contain personal images of the wife of a sensitive nature."

By June 2008, Weil and Wojtanowska had secured the return of all of the photographs.

The end, right? No, it gets even better for old Agnes, and even worse for the police and for Black's Photography now. Read on:

Understandably somewhat miffed, they sued Black's Photography, their employees who dealt with the photographs, the Peel and Halton police, and the officers who were involved in the investigation.

They claimed that the defendants had violated their Charter rights and breached their copyright interest in the photographs.

The total claim exceeded $1.4 million.

We'll see how that one plays out. My surprise is that the writer of the article, a lawyer named Bob Aaron used the term "Understandably somewhat miffed" to describe Agnes and her partner above. Understandably, she was committing a crime, and was caught in the act, but here in Trudeaupia, the only one who gets dinged is the one who caught them, and the police who then investigated, and followed through on charges.

Is there something wrong with this picture? It seems really fuzzy to me.

Meanwhile, a little closer to home about the same time as I heard about this situation, I had dinner with a cousin of mine, who had changed jobs from a job she really enjoyed working in a bank in a small town here in Southwestern Ontario a few years back, and she explained why over dinner.

It seems that in rural Ontario there are scammers going around, and one particular scam is the old working in your area on your neighbour's driveway, got a load of asphalt, see you need some work, how about I fix yours while I'm at it scam.

My cousin had been working in this bank branch for years and knew her customers well, so when an asphalt guy came in to certify a cheque from a farmer she knew was a little tight for money, she was a bit suspicious. She had been aware of the scamming as she had had another customer bitten the previous year, possibly by the guy sitting right in front of her.

The guy stepped out for a butt break, and she checked his account. Part of the scam is that the account the scammers use for their work usually only has enough money in it to keep it active. They clean it out after every deposit, and this one fit the bill. She called the police, and smart small town cops they arrived with sirens flashing. Smart scammer hits the bricks running, and disappears.

Wait till you see where this goes.

Really good scam artist, this guy. Next day he goes to the farmer, and renegotiates with him because of the pain and embarrassment the banker has caused him, while he was just trying to do his job, Right? The farmer falls for it. The scammer returned to the bank with a new cheque. He has his lawyer contact the bank and put them on notice that they will be sued for releasing his private information to the police, a little like Agnes up above.

The bank caves in, so the scammer does his lousy paving job for the farmer, for which he gets paid. He also collects from the bank for the job, so he gets paid twice, because the bank doesn't want the publicity.

The bank, being a magnanimous employer thanks my cousin for her diligence, and takes away her annual bonus that year, effectively letting her pay for their loss because they didn't have the balls to stand up to this criminal.

I swear I did not make either of these up. I just don't have that good of an imagination.


Anonymous said...

I'm disgusted! Morality seems to have just gone out the window. If I were living in the area I'd want to know the name and address of that bank so that if my money was there, I could remove it poste haste. If a bank is not interested in protecting it's customers money and punishes the employee who is. Said bank does not deserve the customers business.

mbrandon8026 said...

Too true