Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Stinchcombe Disclosure

[79]       Under Stinchcombe, the Crown has a broad duty to disclose all relevant, non-privileged information in its possession or control to persons charged with criminal offences. Disclosure of this information allows the person charged to understand the case she or he has to meet and permits him or her to make full answer and defence to the charges: Stinchcombe, at pp. 336-40; R. v. Quesnelle, 2014 SCC 46, [2014] 2 S.C.R. 390, at para. 11. The duty is triggered upon request without recourse to a court: McNeil, at para. 17.

[80]       For the purposes of first party or Stinchcombe disclosure, the term "the Crown" refers to the prosecuting Crown only, not to all Crown entities, federal and provincial. All other Crown entities, including the police, are third parties: Quesnelle, at para. 11; McNeil, at para. 22. Apart from the police duty to supply the prosecuting Crown with the fruits of the investigation, records in the hands of third parties, including the police and other Crown entities, are generally not subject to the Stinchcombe disclosure rules: Quesnelle, at para. 11; McNeil, at para. 25. 

[81]       The assimilation of the police and Crown as a single entity for disclosure purposes is narrowly confined. Apart from the police duty to disclose to the Crown the fruits of the investigation, the two are unquestionably separate and independent entities, not only in fact but also in law. The police investigate. The Crown decides whether, what, whom and how to prosecute: McNeil, at paras. 23, 25. Production of criminal investigation files involving third parties, at least as a general rule, falls to be determined on an O'Connorapplication. This is so at least in the absence of a nexus between the third party and subject investigation: McNeil, at para. 25. 

[82]       The Stinchcombedisclosure regime extends only to material relating to the accused's case in the possession or control of the prosecuting Crown entity. This material is commonly described as the "fruits of the investigation", that is to say, material gathered during the investigation of the offence with which the accused is charged: McNeil, at para. 23. Relevant information includes not only information related to those matters the Crown intends to adduce in evidence against the accused, but also any information in respect of which there is a reasonable possibility that it may assist the accused in the exercise of the right to make full answer and defence: McNeil, at para. 17; Stinchcombe, at pp. 343-44.

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