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     October 2015        

Released on October 21, 2015 at 23:00 EDT
Tag #: 683

Private Prosecutions: A legal Right, or an Untouchable Mirage?

Sudbury court decision challenged. Appeal heard in Toronto October 28
Civil action against Sudbury Police Services and  Const. Labreche ready to file

Sudbury Police member assaulting private citizen

Section 507.1 of the Criminal Code is the starting point for a citizen to exercise rights to a private prosecution.

According to sources available to WikiLeaks Sudbury social justice groups representing legal team planning to file an appeal with the Ontario Court of Appeal regarding the decision of the Sudbury Court to deny the right of a private prosecution.  Unfortunately, the Crown Attorney’s office waited until 30 days had passed before withdrawing the case. 

A motion expect to hear in Toronto on October 28th to request an extension of time for filing the appeal. 

Even if the appeal is not successful, or is not heard, then still have a civil law suit which covers all of the same issues. 

Tanner Currie had charged a member of the Greater Sudbury police for smashing his head into a glass window while his hand were behind his back. The Crown Attorney's office neglected to lay any charges for the incident, so the Applicant initiated the charges himself, as a private citizen.


As a result of the Applicant's efforts, on January 26, 2015 Constable Labreche of the Greater Sudbury police was charged with Assault. Immediately following the Court's decision, the Attorney General intervened in the charge and took over the prosecution

The Applicant objected to the government taking control of the prosecution, which the Applicant had started privately on his own. On June 26, 2015, the Sudbury Court heard and Application regarding the rights of a citizen to privately prosecute charges instead of the ​Crown Attorney's office. Unfortunately, the Sudbury Court ruled that the Attorney General was allowed to intervene in the prosecution, and therefore the Applicant had no right to prosecute the police officer privately. A copy of the Court's decision is provided here.


This case joins the growing collection of precedent cases which have all lost to the Attorney General regarding the issue of private prosecutions. A list of some of the other notable cases are provided below:​


Perks v R (Dec, 1998)
R v Bain (Jan, 2003) 
R v McHale (May, 2010)
Collins v Ontario (Nov, 2010)
McHale v Ontario (Jun, 2011)
Currie v Ontario​ (Jun, 2015)

​​​There is yet to surface a reported decision in Canada in which a citizen was allowed by the Court to privately prosecute. The Attorney General has always been allowed to intervene and take over the prosecution.

Section 507.1 of the Criminal Code is the starting point for a citizen to exercise rights to a private prosecution.

The issue of private prosecutions will definitely come before the Courts again for two reasons. First, as Canadian citizens become increasingly sophisticated, they become more and more knowledgeable of legal rights. And second, the number of self-represented litigants is constantly growing.  This is an important trend because self-represented litigants are more open-minded to unconventional procedures, such as private prosecutions.

The case of Currie v Attorney General Office (will likely be referenced by future courts, lawyers, and self-represented litigants on the issue of private prosecutions. For this reason, it is regrettable that the following facts on record were not included in the Sudbury judgment.

Major issues Related to Sudbury Assault case

​​​(a) The Crown Attorney who intervened in the case and took over the prosecution of the police officer is the same Crown Attorney that cross-examined the Applicant at the pre-charge hearing, attempting to stop the charges from being laid. 

(b) This same Crown Attorney also made submissions to the Court at the pre-charge hearing regarding the rights of police officers to use force.

(c) After intervening in the Applicant's case, the Crown Attorney did not contact the Applicant at all to discuss the prosecution. ​

(d) After intervening in the Applicant's case, the Crown Attorney did not seek a weapons prohibition against the police officer who was charged with assault. Crown policy suggests that a weapons prohibition should be mandatory for violent offences; however, in this case the accused officer remained on duty, armed with weapons.

(e) At the time of intervening in the prosecution, the Crown Attorney did not provide any grounds for intervening on the record. This means that the Crown Attorney was allowed to take over the prosecution, without even providing a reason to the Court. The Applicant's factum argued that the Crown Attorney should only intervene when "necessary" according to Section 11(d) of the Crown Attorney's Act.

The Attorney General's Office and the Crown Attorney fought very hard to take over control of the prosecution of this police officer charged with assault. Since prosecutor discharged  Constable Labreche from all charges,  It is now clear reason behind it.   

But Justice will prevail.

Related documents

Factum of Applicant 
Decision of Court ​

---------------------------------------------------- End

Released on September 12, 2015 @ 21:00

This research initially published on Journal of The Royal Society Interface, 11 (93), Brief review and excerpts of the article follows.

Corruption drives the emergence of civil society

A centuries-old debate exists on how to best govern society and promote cooperation: is cooperation best maintained by a central authority or is it better handled by more decentralized forms of governance? The debate is still unresolved, and identifying mechanisms that promote cooperation remains one of the most difficult challenges facing society and policymakers today. Decentralized, individual sanctioning of non-cooperators (also known as free-riders or defectors) is one of the main tools used by societies to promote and maintain cooperation. Individuals can sanction free-riders implicitly via behavioural reciprocity (as in the case of the highly successful tit-for-tat strategy) or explicitly via costly punishment. Both of these forms of peer punishment have been widely studied using evolutionary models and behavioural experiments. Recently, however, researchers showed that centralized institutions can have an evolutionary advantage over peer punishment because, unlike peer-punishers, these institutions may eliminate ‘second-order’ free-riding. Second-order free-riders cooperate with other players but they do not pay the cost of punishing defectors and this can allow defectors to re-emerge. To address this problem, researchers  present a model of ‘pool’ punishment, where agents commit resources to a centralized authority that sanctions free riders. Pool punishment avoids the second-order free-rider problem because the centralized authority punishes any individual who does not contribute to the punishment pool (including cooperators and peer-punishers). This allows pool-punishers to quickly take over a population, displacing both free-riders and peer-punishers. These advantages help to explain why human societies frequently delegate punishment to centralized institutions. They also help to explain why centralized institutions acquire an increasing monopoly over legitimate punishment over time by stigmatizing and criminalizing various forms of peer punishment.

Centralized sanctioning institutions have been shown to emerge naturally through social learning, displace all other forms of punishment and lead to stable cooperation. However, this result provokes a number of questions. If centralized sanctioning is so successful, then why do many highly authoritarian states suffer from low levels of cooperation? Why do states with high levels of public good provision tend to rely more on citizen-driven peer punishment? Here, we consider how corruption influences the evolution of cooperation and punishment. Our model shows that the effectiveness of centralized punishment in promoting cooperation breaks down when some actors in the model are allowed to bribe centralized authorities. Counter intuitively, a weaker centralized authority is actually more effective because it allows peer punishment to restore cooperation in the presence of corruption. Our results provide an evolutionary rationale for why public goods provision rarely flourishes in polities that rely only on strong centralized institutions. Instead, cooperation requires both decentralized and centralized enforcement. These results help to explain why citizen participation is a fundamental necessity for policing the commons.

It is also possible that institutions may further evolve to deal with this remaining instability. Analytical results in the electronic supplementary information show that when second-order punishment is strong, hybrid punishers are only destabilized by neutral-drift towards pool-punishers (who then allow corruptors and defectors to emerge). Institutions may therefore want to screen and punish pure pool-punishers; and it is interesting that many justice systems have evolved rules that fine people who merely pay their taxes but do not register for various forms of hybrid punishment, for example jury duty. Importantly, however, we have shown that simply adding the risk of corruption can help to explain why centralized and decentralized forms of punishment frequently coexist. No additional appeal to civic norms or civic culture is needed. Which is not to say that these things do not exist or that they do not further promote citizen participation in policing the commons. Rather, our model shows that independent of other virtues, peer-punishment strategies can have a fitness advantage over pool punishment alone. In the face of corruption, peer and hybrid punishment strategies better promote cooperation because they are competitive. If one punisher fails to punish a corrupt individual, another might step in; and this result may help to explain why polities who want to control corruption and promote cooperation often become more tolerant to various forms of decentralized sanctioning.

WikiLeaks Sudbury
September  2015

Related document  

Corruption drives the emergence of civil society


Abdallah S, Sayed R, Rahwan I, LeVeck BL, Cebrian M, Rutherford A, Fowler JH. (2014). Corruption drives the emergence of civil society. Journal of The Royal Society Interface, 11 (93), 20131044.



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