Click here to jump to the part (with coloured text) where I object to the police officer swearing to a god that doesn't exist that he will tell the truth during the hearing--instead of affirming that he will tell the truth.
(BEFORE G. HAYES, JUSTICE OF THE PEACE)
July 19, 2001
Witnesses for the Crown
†††† STEVEN GOLDIE
††††††††† in chief†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 4
††††††††† cross-exam by the Disputant††††††††††††††††††† 6
Witnesses for the Disputant
†††† DAVID BEDFORD
††††††††† in chief†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 8
††††††††† cross-exam by the Constable††††††††††††††††††† 9
Reasons for Judgment††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 11
Reasons for Sentence††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 12
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Vancouver, B.C.
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† July 19, 2001
THE COURT:† Youíre David Bedford?
THE DISPUTANT:† Yes, I am.
THE COURT:† And youíre here because of a ticket, AF02903129?
THE DISPUTANT:† Mm-hmm.
THE COURT:† This is an allegation of failing to signal a lane change, contrary to s. 151 of the Motor Vehicle Act.† You understand the charge on the ticket?
THE DISPUTANT:† Yes, I do.
THE COURT:† And youíre ready to deal with it today?
THE DISPUTANT:† Yes, I am.
Now, you have two plea options.†
You can enter a plea of not guilty.†
We will have a trial.† I will
hear all of the evidence from both sides.†
Then I will come to a decision.†
If youíre acquitted, thatís it, you just leave.† If youíre convicted, then we talk about
whatís a reasonable amount of fine and what would be reasonable time to pay.
†††† The alternative to the not guilty plea is enter a plea of guilty with an explanation, simply wanting to relate to the court what were the circumstances, what is your financial situation, and asking the court to consider reducing the fine accordingly and/or time to pay.
†††† So, those would be your two options.† Any questions, or do you simply wish to enter a plea?
THE DISPUTANT:† I simply wish to enter a plea.
THE DISPUTANT:† Not guilty.
THE COURT:† Have a seat, then.† Weíll hear the evidence from the officer first.
STEVEN GOLDIE, a witness called on behalf of the Crown, being duly sworn, testifies as follows:
THE DISPUTANT:† Objection, Your Honour.
THE COURT:† Yes?
THE DISPUTANT:† I can assure the court that there are no Gods involved, there are no Gods, and that God is not on his side.
THE COURT:† Yes, Iím aware of that.† Probably
through practice and tradition, most of the enforcement officers swear on the
Bible.† Some even will only swear on a
certain Bible, and some will only swear on certain chapters of the Bible.† There are officers who simply affirm.† That is, they promise to tell the truth on
their own oath.† Itís my practice to
offer to either the officer or the person who wants to be a witness their
choice, to promise to tell the truth on their own oath or to swear on the Bible.
†††† Where the court can accommodate it, we sometimes are able to allow for some other religious oath, whatever it is that will bind the personís conscience.† The old days, I think, the perception that a higher power will strike somebody dead, or that theyíre going to suffer for eternity if they tell a lie under oath, I donít think that carries as much force as perhaps it used to in years past.
†††† Whatís critical as far as the court is concerned is that the person will take an oath, either by affirmation or by religion, simply telling the court that they promise to tell the truth.
†††† If thereís evidence that they are not telling the truth, whether they take the religious oath, or whether they take the affirmation, theyíre still subject to the same criminal consequence.† The justice system is not going to wait for a higher power to run its course at judgment day, whatever that may be in that religion.† Whether you take your oath on your own promise or whether you take it on a religious basis you would still face the same temporal sanction under the criminal law.
THE DISPUTANT:† Your Honour, I object to the court proceedings starting off with a lie.† It is not ‑‑
THE COURT:† Well, what is ‑‑
THE DISPUTANT:† Itís not a good indication that this is a fair trial if the witness starts off lying about there being a God and that he swears to it.
THE COURT:† Well, I have some difficulty on the one hand.† I mean, I have personal beliefs that I donít
allow to interfere with performing the task before me.† I have to take some judicial notice that
even the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,
which is the supreme law of this country, makes a reference to God, whatever
that may be.
†††† If the officer prefers to take an oath to promise to tell the truth on a religious basis, I canít deny him that right, no more than I could deny you the right to refuse to take an oath on a religious basis.
†††† If I had my way, my preference would be every person, every witness would affirm.† They would simply promise to tell the truth on their own oath.† But at present we have a dual system.
†††† I donít think getting into some philosophical argument about whether God exists or does not exist really undermines the fact that this officer, this person has taken the witness stand in a court of law and has said they will tell the truth.
THE DISPUTANT:† Would you object to the witness also affirming?
THE COURT:† No, but I would only affirm the witness if the witness agreed to
also affirm because itís their choice, not the courtís choice.
†††† Officer, whatís your position on whether you would also take an affirmation in addition to your original oath?
THE CONSTABLE:† I have no problem with that.
THE COURT:† Would that be satisfactory to you?
THE DISPUTANT:† Yeah, so far.
THE COURT:† All right.
STEVEN GOLDIE, a witness called on behalf of the Crown, being duly affirmed, testifies as follows:
THE COURT:† All right.† Are you satisfied now?
THE DISPUTANT:† Yes.
THE COURT:† All right.† Now, when the
officer is done giving evidence you get a chance to ask him questions,
okay?† When the officer is finished and
youíre done asking him questions you can take the witness stand, if you wish,
and give me evidence on the oath of your choice, and if you decide you want to
do that the officer will get a chance to ask you questions.
†††† Now, before we go any further, were there any other issues that you were planning on raising perhaps as should have been preliminary motions, any constitutional arguments you want to raise, so that we can decide whether the matter can go ahead now or whether it needs to be adjourned to another date when thereís more time available to hear those arguments?
THE DISPUTANT:† Iím wondering why this officer is bearing witness when this was not the officer that served the ticket?
THE COURT:† That would have to be a matter of evidence ‑‑
THE DISPUTANT:† Okay.
THE COURT:† -- we would hear in the course of the trial.† Anything else?
THE DISPUTANT:† (Inaudible).
THE COURT:† All right.† So, weíll proceed then.† Officer, go ahead.
A††† Your Honour, right off the bat Iím going to ask for the courtís discretion on one amendment.† The date was not the 17th of April of the year 2000, it was the 16th of April.† So, before we proceed any further, with the courtís permission Iíd like to have that amended.
THE COURT:† All right.† Any objections from you, Mr. Bedford?
THE DISPUTANT:† No objections, no.
THE COURT:† All right.† You understand the fact that the amendment is made does ‑‑ it is an error.†
THE DISPUTANT:† It is an error.
THE COURT:† So, that does factor into the ultimate weighing of evidence.
THE DISPUTANT:† It is in fact an error.
THE COURT:† Okay.† The amendment is approved.
you, Your Honour.
†††† It was so long ago Iíve forgotten, I donít remember saying whether Iím Constable Steven Goldie, G-o-l-d-i-e.† Iím Constable 31, City of Vancouver Police Department, and was so employed and on duty the 16th of April of the year 2000 and attached to the Traffic Enforcement Division.
†††† The event Iím about to relate to you occurred here in the City of Vancouver, Province of British Columbia, and I am refreshing my memory by the use of extensive notes I made with regards to this matter.
THE COURT:† If those notes were made at the time you may refer to them.
A††† They were made after the event, immediately after the event that Iím alleging.
THE COURT:† You may refer to these notes for cross-examination if you wish.
Honour, on that date at 1242 hours I had occasion to be on duty, operating an
unmarked Vancouver Police Radar Car.† I
was in plainclothes, and I had occasion to be operating this vehicle eastbound
on Hastings Street in the 300 block.† I
was travelling amongst other vehicles when I was passed by a vehicle which was
a Ford product.† It passed my
vehicle.† It was travelling into the
number two lane.† And as it was in the
number two lane ahead of me, travelling into the 200 block of East Hastings,
the vehicle was immediately ahead of me, the operator caused that vehicle to change
lanes from the number two or the middle lane of the 200 East Hastings, and
there are three lanes westbound on Hastings, and he was in the middle lane of
that street in the 200 block.† The
operator of that vehicle caused it to change from the middle lane to the left
lane, or the number one lane.
†††† When the vehicle changed lanes from the number two to the number one lane there was no signal,
or hand, from the operator of that vehicle.†
I then observed this vehicle pass a single vehicle that was travelling
in the number two lane.† The vehicle,
the Ford that had moved from the two to the number one lane then immediately
changed back into the number two lane from the number one lane.† There was no hand signal, there was no
electronic signal when it moved into the number two lane.
†††† As the vehicle was approaching the intersection of Hastings and Main in the westbound direction the operator of that vehicle then caused it to move from the number two lane that it was in into the curb lane, and again there was no electronic signal and there was no hand signal and I had an unobstructed view of the back of this vehicle and, in fact, the whole vehicle, and I was paying particular attention to it because it was somewhat obvious to me that this vehicle was working its way through slower traffic.
†††† When this vehicle moved into the number three lane without signalling, that became three unsignalled lane changes in the 200 block.† When this Ford product came to the intersection the traffic light was red.† It was the first vehicle in the number three or curb lane at the intersection of Hastings and Main and I was in immediately behind that vehicle in the unmarked police vehicle.
†††† When the traffic light turned to green the operator of that vehicle started up fairly quickly, in fact, faster than the other cars, the cars that were stopped in the one and two lane.† It travelled through the intersection and then went on the other side of the intersection in the 100 block of East Hastings the operator caused that vehicle to change from the curb lane into the middle lane or the number two lane and again there was no signal, electronic or hand signal, whatsoever, from the operator of that vehicle, that being the fourth unsignalled lane change Iíd observed from this vehicle.
†††† As a result, I activated the emergency lights on the unmarked vehicle.† The Ford product was pulled over to the curb.† Once the vehicle was over to the curb I exited the police vehicle.† I was in plainclothes.† I approached the operator of that vehicle.† I identified myself as Vancouver Police.† I indicated to the operator exactly why he had been stopped in terms of the number of unsignalled lane changes, and I asked him for his driverís licence.
produced to me a valid and subsisting British Columbia picture driverís licence
in the name of David Bedford.† The
picture on the driverís licence was that of the operator.† The operator said to me he was David
Bedford, and I was satisfied by the likeness of the picture, which was that of
the person behind the wheel, that I was in fact dealing with David Bedford.
†††† Your Honour, having observed the vehicle operated by this person in the 200 block of East Hastings make three unsignalled lane changes and one more unsignalled lane change in the 100 block of East Hastings I decided to issue a violation ticket for the unsignalled lane change in the 200 block of East Hastings, that being the very first unsignalled lane change that was made from the number two to the number one where the vehicle was immediately ahead of me.† I subsequently did that using s. 151(c) of the Motor Vehicle Act, fail to signal lane change.† I used document number AF02903129 for that section.† I completed that document and I signed that document and I served an accurate and true copy of that document on the operator and allowed him to proceed.
†††† Your Honour, it was a sunny day, and all these events occurred here in the City of Vancouver, Province of British Columbia.† Thatís the evidence on behalf of the Crown.
THE COURT:† Do you want to ask the officer any questions about anything that he told the court in evidence?
THE DISPUTANT:† Yes.
THE COURT:† Go ahead.
CROSS-EXAMINATION BY THE DISPUTANT:
Q††† From the time that you put on your lights to the time that you ‑‑ the time that I signed the ticket, what was the duration of time that spanned?
A††† I donít keep track of it.† I could estimate.† But you never did sign the ticket, and I never asked you to sign the ticket.† So, maybe you perhaps mean served the ticket on you, from the time I pulled you over?
Q††† The time that you left ‑‑ left me, after you handed me the ticket, to the time that you put on your lights.† The time, chronologically, from the time that you had put on your lights to pull me over to the time that you had handed me the ticket and walked back to your car, what would you say the time lapse was?
A††† Well, Your Honour, I didnít make notes about it.† I know that sometimes tickets take longer to write
†††† because people want to discuss things with you.† But, generally, if somebody doesnít want to have a big conversation with me, simply wants to identify themselves, sit there and wait for the ticket, itís usually about 60 seconds, a minute.
Q††† Okay.† But you canít actually say ‑‑
A††† I canít actually say that, Your Honour.† I can easily write a ticket and be gone in a minute if thereís nothing unusual about the circumstances.
Q††† When you left me did you realize I was talking to you?
A††† Oh, I have left many people when theyíve been talking to me and itís possible.† I donít recall whether you were talking to me, but itís quite likely you might have been talking to me and I usually donít stay around for much conversation because it usually leads to problems.
Q††† Did you stay around for any conversation?
A††† After I served the ticket?† Probably not.
Q††† While you were serving the ticket?
A††† Well, while Iím serving the ticket Iím sticking around.
Q††† Okay.† Did you spend any time talking to me besides the couple of questions for me producing the driverís licence?
A††† I told you, in the initial conversation I said ďVancouver Police.† Iíve stopped you for failing to signal lane changes.† Iíd like your driverís licence, please,Ē and other than then asking you, ďAre you who is named on the driverís licence,Ē et cetera, after that, no, no conversation that I got into or made notes of.
Q††† How many ‑‑ was there another officer in the police car that you used to pull me over with?
A††† No, there was not.
Q††† Are you sure that you were in plainclothes?
A††† Yes, and I know why I was in plainclothes. It was the† Sun Run day and I was in plainclothes for the Vancouver Sun Run.† It was part of my assignment.
Q††† Do your plainclothes look like a police officer uniform?
A††† Not at all.† Thatís why theyíre called plainclothes.
Q††† It was ‑‑ so, youíre saying that there was not another person in the police car with you?
A††† No, I am not saying that.† You asked me if there was another officer with me and my answer was no, and there was not another officer with me.
Q††† Okay.† Was there another person in the police car with
A††† There was a civilian with me, yes.
Q††† A civilian.† Okay.† I donít think I have any further questions.
THE COURT:† All right.† Officer, you can step down.
THE WITNESS:† Thank you, Your Honour.
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (WITNESS EXCUSED)
THE COURT:† Mr. Bedford, do you want to give evidence?
THE DISPUTANT:† Yes, I do.
THE COURT:† Come on up to the witness stand, please.† I take it that your preference is simply to promise to tell the truth on your own oath, correct?
THE DISPUTANT:† Thatís correct.
DAVID BEDFORD, the Disputant, being duly affirmed, testifies as follows:
THE COURT:† Thank you.† State your name and spell your last name for the court record.
A††† My name is David Robin Bedford.† Last name is spelled B-e-d-f-o-r-d.
THE COURT:† Thank you.† Go ahead.
Honour, I was ‑‑ it was the Sun Run day.† I was travelling, like the officer said, along Hastings, and I
was ‑‑ I was driving into town to pick up a child from the Sun Run
who was leaving the Sun Run, and I was signalling as I was driving, and my ‑‑
well, like, I had noted that, the day before, that my signal was not working,
or was occasionally not working.† It was
sporadic, depending on what bump I went over, and this was only the driverís
side that I had noticed, anyway.
†††† And I tried to explain to the officer, but he asked me very quickly, like rapid gunfire, ďTurn your left signal on.† Turn your right signal on,Ē and I did so.† He says, ďTheyíre working,Ē and he handed me the ticket and he went back to his car and I was still with my mouth open trying to explain to him that my signal was not working on the driverís side.† And Iím pretty sure he was wearing a uniform.† I remember a uniform.† It was definitely blue, navy blue pants, you know, dark ‑‑ dark blue pants.† He was wearing a black jacket.† I thought it was a uniform jacket.
THE COURT:† All right.† Anything else you want to add?
A††† There was another person in the car.† I assumed it was
†††† a lady police officer but that assumption was incorrect, I guess.† And he seemed like he was in so much of a hurry that, as you noted, the date was written incorrectly on the ticket.† He was in an extreme hurry.† And I did go home after ‑‑ well, I paid attention to my signals for the rest of the trip and I did note that it was not functioning during periods of the trip, and I did go home and I opened my trunk up and on the ‑‑ on the passenger side there was a loose connection with the ‑‑ with the wire end of the, what do you call those plug-ins at the end of the wire, was ‑‑ wasnít properly attached, I guess from my putting my daughterís drums in the car, one of the drum cymbals, or something, hit it off, hit it loose.
THE COURT:† Mm-hmm.† Anything else?
A††† No, I donít believe so.
THE COURT:† Any questions from the Crown?
CROSS-EXAMINATION BY THE CONSTABLE:
Q††† Sir, in your direct evidence you said I checked to see if your rear turn signals were working, both of them; is that correct?
A††† Thatís correct.
Q††† And I did tell you they were working?
A††† Thatís right.
Q††† And you did say that your left turn signal, the rear one, I imagine you meant the rear one, there was some malfunction in it at some point, you were aware of that?
Q††† Why were you driving the vehicle that was malfunctioning or potentially malfunctioning if it went over a bump?
A††† Well, I had to drive the vehicle that day and I intended to get it fixed.† It was a Saturday and that would be the day that I would get it fixed.
Q††† But in the end, in your own evidence, you said ‑‑
A††† And I did ‑‑
Q††† -- you did find what the problem was and fixed it?
A††† -- and I did ‑‑ and I did fix it that day.
THE CONSTABLE:† No further questions, Your Honour.
THE COURT:† Step down to counsel table, please.
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (WITNESS EXCUSED)
THE COURT:† Anything youíd like to say in summary, Mr. Bedford?
THE DISPUTANT:† No, I donít believe so.
THE COURT:† All right.† The Motor Vehicle Act is pretty straightforward.† These are regulatory offences, theyíre not criminal matters.† What that means in simple terms is that the Crown doesnít have to prove that you meant to break the law.† They only have to prove that whatever the illegal thing is, that it took place.† Lane changes, no signal.
††††††††† You canít argue that you didnít mean to break the law, but in most cases with one of these regulations you can argue that you took all reasonable steps to
†††† avoid committing the offence.† Itís called due diligence.
††††††††† Now, in this case you were aware of some malfunction in the lights, that there was some intermittent operation with the signals.† I donít know what the timeline was, as in did you notice it at midnight the night before and you had your commitments for the next morning?† Those may be factors that I will consider when we discuss whatís an appropriate penalty.†
††††††††† But I am satisfied that the offence did take place.† I am going to enter a finding of guilt.
††††††††† Any submissions from the Crown?
THE CONSTABLE:† No, Your Honour.† Iíll leave it to the courtís discretion.† Thank you.
THE COURT:† So, now, Mr. Bedford, Iíll ask you become aware of the malfunction?
THE DISPUTANT:† It was the evening before.
THE COURT:† Late in the evening?
THE DISPUTANT:† No, it was around dinnertime.
THE COURT:† All right.† So, you didnít have time to scoot to Canadian Tire or wherever and ‑‑
THE DISPUTANT:† No.
THE COURT:† -- check it out?
THE DISPUTANT:† I donít even know what hours theyíre open until.
THE COURT:† All right.† Considering your good driving record, and the fact that no speeding was alleged, and nothing was alleged that relates to any unsafe operation of the motor vehicle other than the signals werenít operative, Iím going to impose an absolute discharge.† There will be no fine.† Youíre free to go.† Thank you.
THE DISPUTANT:† Thank you.
†††† (PROCEEDINGS CONCLUDED)
†††† Hayes, G., J.P.
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