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Sgt. James Bracken:  The Postmark Maze

One Envelope, 9 Different Postmark Dates

Exhibit #83 was the sole exhibit which triggered the Breach of Undertaking charge. It consists of a cover letter and other documents inside a manila envelope. It was addressed to a journalist named Jill Strelieff at the Saskatoon Star Phoenix newspaper building.

The physical envelope cannot be pictured here, as it is protected by the Saskatchewan Muirhead Rules of Disclosure. However, the exhibit can be described in words. The front of the envelope shows the name and address of Jill Strelieff; in addition Sgt. Bracken made three notations in his own handwriting:

Exhibit #83 Envelope
#83 Exhibit number for the envelope and its contents
B 38 Initial of Sgt. Bracken's surname, and his badge number
1447  02/06/20 Time of 14:47 hours (2:47 pm) and date 2002 June 20

Regarding the last notation: The case was investigated in 2002, therefore the date 02/06/20 has one possible expansion, namely June 20, 2002. That date falls within the range or spectrum of mailing dates claimed by Sgt. Bracken in his maze of an Occurrence Report which covered the Breach of Undertaking. However, that date of June 20/02 does not coincide with the actual mailing date established by the postmark on the envelope. The difference (from April 11/02 to June 20/02) is more than two months.

Sgt. Bracken knew how to interpret postmarks with precision: he had done so with all prior exhibits. Bracken was a senior police officer with 29 years on the force. He was the lead investigator on this case. Bracken was in a position of trust; his duty was to conduct a real investigation. Instead, Bracken connived behind the scenes to help Dr. Yelland do an end run around my written complaint of sexual harassment.

Sgt. Bracken selected out Exhibit #83, cached it, and withheld all knowledge of it from the RCMP Forensic Lab. Weeks later, when convenient, Sgt. Bracken disclosed this package for the unequivocal purpose of fabricating the Breach charge. This premeditated act meets the legal definition of malice.

Bracken Cites 9 Postmark Dates for a Single Envelope

The first reference, anywhere, to Exhibit #83 or to a Breach of Undertaking, was in the Occurrence Reports of June 24/02. That was the actual day the Breach charge was laid. The two participating officers each wrote a report: The senior detective, Sgt. Bracken, discussed the details of Exhibit #83 while a young patrol officer, Cst. Lee Jones, described the events which befell at the Provincial Court House.

Sgt. James Bracken
Sgt. James Bracken
Saskatoon Police

The only other reference to Exhibit #83 or to the Breach was in the Occurrence Report of June 26/02 from Sgt. Bracken. At that point, the Breach charge had been fully processed and a new Undertaking was signed into effect.

No earlier reference to Exhibit #83 exists, despite the varied claims about the postmark date. The claims range across a wide spectrum from June 5 to June 21, 2002.

During the early part of June 2002, Sgt. Bracken authored four other Occurrence Reports: Those are dated June 6 (two reports), June 12, and June 13. None of those lengthy reports refers in any way to Exhibit #83 or to any activity construed as a Breach of Undertaking. The reports deal mainly with Bracken's displeasure that I blew the whistle on Dr. Yelland.

The first police record or acknowledgment of Exhibit #83 was in the June 24/02 Occurrence Report. Within that one report, Sgt. Bracken offered several accounts, all in mutual discord, of when Exhibit #83 was mailed, of when the Star Phoenix received it, and of when Sgt. Bracken visited the Star Phoenix premises to pick it up. Note: His several accounts of the exhibit number, the package contents, and the address and return-address on the envelope, all remain consistent and precise. Only the dates form a maze of contradictions.

Working through the June 24/02 Occurrence Report, in strict order from start to finish, the dates cited by Sgt. Bracken for Exhibit #83 are shown in the following quotes (year 2002). The first quote sets the context, and the other nine quotes refer directly to the postmark.

Postmark dates cited by Sgt. Bracken for Exhibit #83

The conditions of the May 23/02 Undertaking were fairly explicit spelling out what can and cannot be done.

Date # 1

With that, Sil sometime in June/02 did mail an envelope to Jill Strelieff of the Saskatoon Star Phoenix.

Date # 2

Sil did between June 7/02 and June 24/02 breach her Undertaking contrary to Section 145(3). This wording coincides with the Court Information form.

Date # 3

On the 02-June-20, Sgt. Bracken received a message from Jill Strelieff who is a reporter for the Star Phoenix.

Date # 4

The date on the stamps is difficult to read, however it is believed to be the 6th of June that it was sent out.

Date # 5

It was received on the 10th (of June), and Sgt. Bracken was subsequently notified right away, and he attended at the Star Phoenix to retrieve this.

Date # 6

Sgt. Bracken was satisfied that this letter, or envelope and contents, were sent to the Star Phoenix sometime around the 5th or 6th of June.

Date # 7

Sgt. Bracken was notified to pick up the envelope, and did so on the 20th of June, however the envelope was received the day before.

Date # 8

The Star Phoenix received this final envelope, and it was believed that it was received by them sometime during the week of June 17 to June 21, 2002.

Date # 9

Jill Strelieff said it was entirely possible that it was received on June 14, 2002.

This maze is a red flag. We sense something is wrong, even without seeing the postmarked envelope. Bracken clearly set out to lie, but why write nine accounts instead of just one? We can work our way to the answer.

The quotes are listed in order of appearance in the Occurrence Report. Reading down the list, we see a transition from early dates (the 5th or 6th of June) to dates much later in the month (on or after June 14). The transition is significant.

The long Occurrence Report of June 24 has a segmented texture: Bracken started with a summary in early morning, then as the day progressed he discussed the "Breach" with other police officers and with Crown Prosecutor Fred Dehm. After each conversation, Bracken brought out his dictaphone to record how the case was advancing. Bracken could not alter earlier sections of his report, as the police secretary efficiently typed these hourly. Bracken coped by appending new segments.

Bracken started off by claiming that Exhibit #83 was mailed on the 5th or 6th of June.  That was impetuous. It created a major discrepancy that Bracken could not answer: If the Undertaking had truly been breached in early June, then why do the police Occurrence Reports from that period contain no reference to the event? A Breach is a serious indictable charge, and everyone – from the Crown, to the Police Chief, to the lowliest patrol officer – would wonder why the lead investigator (Bracken) did not pursue it promptly and with vigor.

Justice officials would know that Bracken had ample opportunity to place the Breach on record earlier. In the first half of June, Bracken wrote a total of four Occurrence Reports; any of them might have served as a vehicle to report new exhibits or new charges. Those four reports are dated June 6 (two reports written the same day), June 12, and June 13 – and none of them contains any mention of a Breach of Undertaking.

Bracken realized he had to push his postmark date later in time, to make it appear that Exhibit #83 was mailed after his last known Occurrence Report (which was dated June 13). Perhaps this was spurred by scrutiny from the Crown; perhaps Bracken recognized it on his own. Bracken then began his artful dance to nudge the postmark date into the latter half of June.

But Sgt. James Bracken, with mud on his shoes, left a trail of dirty footprints.

Exhibit #83 Envelope

The circular postmark (on the top right corner of the envelope) is clear and crisply-inked. Contrary to Sgt. Bracken's claim, the postmark date is easily read as 11 April 2002.

The Muirhead Rules of Disclosure do not allow the actual envelope to be electronically scanned or displayed. The artist's rendition below is faithful to the original.

Artist’s Rendition

Police Exhibit #83: Manila envelope with postmark date April 11, 2002
Georgena S. Sil
Saskatoon, Canada
Physicist & Technical Writer
Alumnus: University of British Columbia
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Common Cuttlefish

A cuttlefish has complex eyes with W-shaped pupils; 8 arms and 2 tentacles; plus ink sacs between the gills.

How Cuttlefish Escape by Inking:


Cuttlefish squirts sepia ink with a jet of water from a siphon to generate a dark diffuse cloud. Goal: emit a smokescreen to obscure pursuers’ view.

Blanche-Ink-Jet Maneuver

Cuttlefish squirts ink mixed with mucus to create pseudomorphs (false bodies) which hold their shape. These decoys mimic the size of the animal, and move. Simultaneously the cuttlefish blanches (changes color). Goal: divert pursuers onto wrong path.

Common Cuttlefish
Sepia Officinalis

The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns, as it were, instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.

George Orwell

Politics and the English Language


Right to Disclosure

Disclosure refers to the array of police reports and other exhibits which the Crown relies upon to make its case.

Clients who represent themselves need full access to the disclosure just as if they were a defence attorney. Well ahead of the court date, clients must learn the details of the case against them; test the credibility of the evidence; interview witnesses; and plan cross-examination questions.

The Canadian Charter of Rights guarantees you access to the disclosure documents and physical exhibits for purposes of preparing for your own Preliminary Hearing or Trial. Each province decides its own method.

Saskatchewan:  Muirhead Order

In the province of Saskatchewan, the rules of disclosure have their origin in the precedent:

R. v. Muirhead 1995 SKCA

Today the disclosure given to self-represented clients is named after that ruling, thus is called Muirhead Disclosure. When the court grants access, it is through a formal Muirhead Order. The client must abide by three conditions:

  1. Maintain all disclosure material provided by the Crown in your sole possession and not release any of the said material to any member of the public or press;
  2. Use the said material solely for the purposes of preparing for your trial and to immediately return it to the Crown upon completion of trial;
  3. Do not reproduce or store the said material in a retrieval system or transmit it in any form.

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