Nova Scotia E-Trial a Success

Nova Scotia's E-trial

The Nova Scotia E-Trial of R. v. Colpitts, 2018 NSSC 40 was a success that set the stage for a paperless E-Appeal.

At trial, the Crown proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendants, together with Clarke and ten unindicted co-conspirators, developed and implemented a multi-faceted scheme to manipulate the Knowledge House Inc. share price on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The criminal trial heard evidence and submissions for more than 160 trial days over a two-year period. It was a huge and complicated case with 184 exhibits, including Exhibit 1, which contained 5,672 electronic documents and over 800 communications.

After trial, the defendants brought applications based on pre and post charge delay. The Honourable Justice Kevin Coady dismissed the applications saying that the Crown had a concrete plan to minimize delay which included creating an Electronic Courtroom:

“The electronic courtroom was specifically created for this trial due to its nature and complexity. The Crown made efficient use of it, and even operated it for Mr. Colpitts, at his direction, during his evidence. Initially all parties agreed to it, but the defendants tried to revoke their “consent”, which would have increased trial time exponentially.” R. v. Colpitts, 2018 NSSC 41 at para. 132

Justice Coady also noted that the defence caused significant delay when it brought “illegitimate defence motions” including a motion objecting to the Crown’s use of electronic evidence at trial.

Why this matters: Nova Scotia’s E-Trial confirms that E-Trials are happening in courts across Canada. I am pleased to add this province’s E-trial and E-Appeal to the growing list of E-Trial examples in the Modern Law Blog.

If you are considering bringing an e-trial then Justice Coady makes some helpful comments that the Crown’s plan to reduce delay included an e-trial. If you are facing opposition from other parties, you may also like to highlight where Justice Coady comments on the illegitimate nature of the defence’s motion objecting to the use of electronic evidence.

There are also suggestions that the Nova Scotia courts are particularly open to e-trials, for example, the Lawyers Daily quoted Nova Scotia Chief Justice Micheal Wood saying: “It really is a good template, and I think, as well, the province has indicated that this is a standard that, as they move forward, they would like to introduce in more and more courtrooms.”