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Plaintiff Lorraine Holowachuk sued the Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners plus four officers for negligent investigation, wrongful arrest, and malicious prosecution. The police officers were Robert Doig (retired), Tim Sellar, Greg Robert, and Lee Jones.
In this article we focus on the actions of one police officer, Cst. Lee Jones, as he alone in the group has blazed a trail of misconduct. We analyzed several of his cases; we also have direct experience. There is one ineluctable conclusion:
A search of Saskatoon court files shows the name Cst. Lee Jones time and again in wrongful arrest cases.
His consistent role: to lie to protect superior officers. In parallel, he was demonstrably rewarded with career advancement.
Lee and Jones are common names. In the cases reviewed here, Cst. Lee Jones is uniquely identified by his Badge Number (#459) and unit (Saskatoon Police Service or SPS).
The ‘Constable Jones’ cases involve wrongful arrest of ordinary citizens – not violent gangs, nor scofflaws, nor adventurers taking advantage of lambs. For those perps, one might explain it away by saying “excess zeal in a police officer.” But what context can there be for harsh handling of a housewife, an office worker, or a disabled person?
The broad context is abuse of power: An officer using his Badge for an improper purpose. A normal officer could not stomach mendacity. But a number of police officers do glory in being first-on-scene, or intrinsic to the scene, in a case of wrongful arrest. The officer is an emotional voyeur, his dissipated eyes a-gloat, watching the accused make a transition from confident citizen to humiliated, shaken victim.
Often a specific context – a societal goal or a personal agenda – sits undisguised in court documents, or may be uncovered by comparing biographic timelines. Common examples: animosity toward the accused, a bond with the complainant, or loyalty to superior officers. The latter may be clinched by a positive inducement (a bribe of money or career advancement), or a negative inducement (mild blackmail, or pressure for a debt owed).
A surprising number of citizens can suffer misconduct from the same officer, and not only that, but comparable exploits. The officer is repeating a pattern shaped by his skill set, background, and position on the force. Judges call this similar-fact evidence and consider it of probative value (affording proof). Where to research the topic:
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Reputation is sometimes as wide as the horizon, when character is but the point of a needle. Character is what one really is; reputation what others believe him to be.
Henry Ward Beecher
2002 May 22 | Georgena Sil
Georgena Sil v. Dr. Yelland
2002 June 24 | Georgena Sil
Sil: Breach of Undertaking
2002 July 29 | Diane Peterson
R. v. Peterson 2003 SKQB
2002 Oct 5 | Lorraine Holowachuk
Holowachuk v. Mollard 2004 SKQB
Cst. Lee Jones (Badge #459) was assigned the newly created role of Graffiti Officer at the Saskatoon Police Station. Jones was the only officer in the Anti-Graffiti Unit.
Cst. Lee Jones began traveling on a lecture circuit as a Graffiti Officer.
Saskatoon Police disband Graffiti Unit.
February 27, 2004: Plaintiff Lorraine Holowachuk sued for negligent investigation, wrongful arrest, and malicious prosecution. Defendants were the Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners and four individual officers: Robert Doig (retired), Tim Sellar, Greg Robert, and Lee Jones. They violated proper police procedure in that they:
The parties had a personal history before this case. Triggering event: Holowachuk spoke directly to the woman that Robert Doig was pursuing. Within twelve hours, Robert Doig, a retired Saskatoon Police Officer, retaliated with false accusations.
Specifically, Doig claimed that Holowachuk pushed, with her hand, a large industrial staple into the tire of his truck while it was parked on the lot of the Emerald Casino, a lot covered by security cameras and patrolled frequently by security staff.
Cst. Lee Jones attended the Emerald Casino to take a damage report. Jones testified in Court that he never inspected the tire for damage; he simply took the staple from Doig's hand. The staple was not filed as evidence in Court, as Jones claimed he lost it out of his jacket pocket in a scuffle later that day.
Evidence procedure was violated: the staple should have been sealed in a container and stored at the Police Station. Holowachuk alleges the staple disappeared because Jones, and the lead investigator Sellar, felt they could not convince the Court that Holowachuk (a youthful female) could push it into a hard rubber tire with her hand.
Doig claimed he called a tire shop, Value Tire, to have the tire picked up for repair. Holowachuk challenged the police for physical proof: (1) a receipt of repair work done on the tire; and (2) the security video tape from the Emerald Casino parking lot for the key two-hour period. But no further investigation was done.
Holowachuk was arrested on October 5, 2002. Following her release, she made several enquires at the Saskatoon Police Station. Shortly after, the word “charged” was added to the police file, but Holowachuk had never actually been charged with an offence. Also, events were misrepresented to make Holowachuk appear threatening. Negative fallout to Holowachuk's career was serious (she was refused a real-estate license; she suffered stress; and her health deteriorated).
April 13, 2004: Plaintiff Lorraine Holowachuk made an ex-parte application to the Court, requesting physical proof of the statements made by Defendant Robert Doig. In support of her application, this Affidavit is on record:
“The Defendant Robert Doig alleged that Holowachuk damaged the right rear tire of his truck by pushing a staple into the side wall. Doig reported to the Saskatoon Police Service that the alleged damage occurred within hours of Holowachuk speaking to the woman he was pursuing.
Holowachuk requires proof that no repair was ever done to the tire. The Saskatoon Police did not see evidence of any damage, nor see the staple in the tire, as it was purported to have been removed by Doig before police were called to the scene.
This evidence is needed to prove that Doig gave false information to the Saskatoon Police which they relied upon to have the Plaintiff Lorraine Holowachuk arrested.
Latin: ex parte means ‘from a side,’ in the interests of one party only.
April 13, 2004: As part of her application to the Court this day, Plaintiff Lorraine Holowachuk submitted the following Draft Order, which represents the ideal of what an applicant seeks from the Judge:
“It is hereby ordered that the record of work done by Value Tire, 715 - 2nd Avenue North, Saskatoon, on October 5, 2002 on the tire of the truck owned by Defendant Robert Doig, be produced. If a record exists,the computer log for the entry must be produced. If no record exists, a statement to that effect is to be provided.
The application was heard in Chambers at Saskatoon Queen's Bench Court. Plaintiff Lorraine Holowachuk was self-represented. Content of the fiat (judicial ruling):
April 14, 2004 – This application for production may not proceed on an ex parte basis, but should be brought on motion with notice to the Defendants through their solicitor. Judge: (signature illegible)
If a police officer decides to lie, he or she gets help from all directions. One enabler is a lesser-known branch of the justice system ‘ideally’ situated to suppress evidence. This branch is Transcript Services. A verbatim record of testimony is essential at many Court levels: at Depositions, Trials, and Preliminary Hearings. Even for applications heard in Chambers, the Judge may preserve the record on a Motion from one party.
The raw record is either a tape recording, or shorthand from a court reporter. This is sent to the Transcript Services vendor, whose staff transcribe the audio or shorthand into readable words, then issue a bound paper copy to all parties (Judge, Prosecutor, Plaintiff, Defendant).
The Court Transcript is meant to safeguard testimony taken under oath, especially facts hard-won through adroit cross-examination, and to avoid convenient conflicts of memory later. It is also humane to preserve testimony exculpatory to ordinary citizens (as opposed to justice officials) because the citizen is nearly powerless in the system.
But in the Holowachuk case (echoing other cases on record) the initial Transcript was missing a page crucial to a vulnerable party. In Saskatchewan the Transcript vendor is Royal Reporting Services, Inc. The vendor had to be chased to admit the existence of, and to produce, the missing page #139.
April 28, 2004: The missing page arrived by fax. Contents: Holowachuk (acting pro se) examined Constable Lee Jones and obtained a vital exculpatory admission:
“Page 139 / Cst. Lee Jones (under oath): I was called for complaint of mischief to a vehicle. I took a report and I observed a green pick-up, jacked up, with the right wheel, flat removed on the back of the truck area. The tire had been removed from the axle. I didn't physically see any holes in the tire.
April 29, 2004: Yesterday the missing Transcript page arrived, and today Holowachuk began preparing a new Chambers application:
The Affidavit begins: Plaintiff Lorraine Holowachuk did not damage the Defendant Robert Doig's vehicle in any way and seeks proof that the tire did not need repair, and was never picked up by Value Tire nor repaired by them. Facts relied upon:
“Robert Doig falsely reported to the Saskatoon Police Service that Holowachuk damaged the right rear tire of his truck by pushing a staple into the side wall with her hand. A Saskatoon Police officer attended the scene, however he did not look for damage to the tire, but simply took the staple from Doig's hand.
This was testified to by Constable Lee Jones in the Section 810 Hearing. Exhibit: Transcript page #139. Constable Jones stated he was unable to produce the staple as evidence, as he lost it in a scuffle later that day.
Sergeant Tim Sellar, who was in charge of the file, refused to respond to repeated requests from Holowachuk that police obtain records or computer logs from Value Tire. No proof was ever obtained by any of the Defendants of any repair to the tire.
“Relief Sought: Production of the record from Value Tire showing repair work done to the tire of a truck owned by Defendant Robert Doig which he reported that Holowachuk had damaged. If a record exists, Holowachuk seeks the computer log for the entry to show the actual date. Should no record exist, Holowachuk seeks to have a statement to that affect produced.
Grounds for Relief: Holowachuk seeks the proof that the action against her was initiated by Robert Doig giving false information to the Saskatoon Police Service, and additionally that Saskatoon Police were negligent in their investigation as they made no inquiry whether the allegation was true, and in fact refused to obtain the readily available proof upon Holowachuk's insistence the tire was never damaged.
The application was brought again to Chambers at Saskatoon Queen's Bench Court. Plaintiff Lorraine Holowachuk was self-represented. The fiats:
May 6, 2004 – I find that the Plaintiff's application is premature. I'm advised that a mandatory mediation date has been set for June 1, 2004. The applicant applies for an order directing Value Tire to produce certain records. Value Tire has not been advised or notified of this application. The application is dismissed with costs to be set at $150.00 to be payable within two weeks from this date. Justice Hrabinsky
May 20, 2004 – Adjourned to June 10, 2004 to enable the Plaintiff to retain counsel to assist her. Justice Hrabinsky
June 3, 2004 – Mandatory civil mediation was held in compliance with section 42 of the Saskatchewan Queen's Bench Act.
June 10, 2004: Final session in Q.B. Chambers. Plaintiff Lorraine Holowachuk was still self-represented (apparently she could not find an attorney who was affordable, and willing to go up against the police). But Holowachuk did just fine on her own.
Holowachuk filed a Notice of Motion; her Affidavit dated April 29 with Exhibit A (the missing Transcript page); and the Mediation Certificate of Completion. This judge was attentive to the evidence, as the fiat indicated:
June 10, 2004 – Decision reserved. Madam Justice Rothery
June 17, 2004: Decision written by Madam Justice Rothery.
Events: Robert Doig and Kathy Mollard sought a peace bond against Lorraine Holowachuk. Three police officers – Tim Sellar, Greg Robert and Lee Jones – handled the complaint. At the Section 810 Hearing, the judge ruled the evidence insufficient to order a recognizance and the case against Holowachuk was dismissed.
Civil Claim: Plaintiff Holowachuk sued for malicious prosecution, negligence, and false arrest. Defendants to the action were Doig and Mollard, plus three police officers (Sellar, Robert, and Jones). The Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners was named as vicariously liable for the actions of the three officers.
Cause of Action: The Defendants applied to have the action against them struck on the basis it disclosed no reasonable cause of action under Q.B. Rule 173. Justice Rothery did not agree and said: When examining a particular pleading the court is not to look at it in the abstract, but as it describes the relationship between the parties. It is within that context that the pleading must be viewed and its merit determined.
Pleadings: The Defendants also applied to have portions of the Statement of Claim struck as being immaterial, redundant or unnecessarily prolix. Justice Rothery replied: The Plaintiff has composed a claim that is readable and clear in providing a basis for her allegations. While some sentences may offend Q.B. Rule 139(1) which restricts pleadings to a summary of material facts, it is not so egregious that paragraphs be struck out. The additional material simply assists the Defendants in knowing the claim that they must meet.
Negligence: The Defendants said the Claim did not use the word ‘malice’ and lacked the essential element that police acted outside their authority. Justice Rothery ruled: While the Plaintiff has not made such a statement, her pleadings include an allegation of gross negligence and allegations of placing false information on the police file and providing false information to the prosecutor. That amounts to allegations of a police officer acting outside his authority. The necessary pleadings for negligence are found in the Plaintiff's claim.
May 18, 2006: The Tuum Est webmaster requisitioned the court file for the civil claim Lorraine Holowachuk v. Kathy Mollard 2004. Purpose: Research into wrongful arrests committed by Saskatoon Police Officer Cst. Lee Jones (Badge #459).
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