Was the special prosecutor’s investigation into Bryant’s charges negligent or corrupt?

May 25, 2013

On May 25, 2010, exactly three years ago today, special prosecutor, Richard Peck dropped the charges against, former Attorney General, Michael Bryant, in the killing of Darcy Allan Sheppard on the night of August 31, 2009.

Since that time Michael Bryant has written a book that paints himself as a victim and hero. In the past few days Sheppard’s father, Allan Sheppard Sr. released new documents that raise troubling questions regarding the investigation led by Peck and his agent, Toronto defence lawyer, Mark Sandler.

Bryant Watch looked at the new evidence including the police reconstruction report and cross referenced this evidence with media reports of the case, the court record and information revealed in Bryant’s book to come up with a timeline of the investigation.

This timeline raises even more troubling questions regarding Peck’s decision to drop the charges and avoid a messy trial involving the former leader of his employer in this case and two other cases for which he had recently been hired. This “independent” prosecutor seemed to have quite the case load with the office for the Attorney General for Ontario.

The following is a partial timeline.

On September 1, 2009 – Michael Bryant charged with criminal negligence causing death and dangerous driving causing death and released from custody without bail

September 1, 2009 – Bryant hires Marie Henein, another prominent member of the Toronto criminal defence bar, as his lawyer. Bryant says he and. Henein “agreed on a basic strategy within ten days of my release from jail.”(p.232)
Their strategy was to get the charges dropped and avoid a trial at all costs.

“When it came to getting charges dropped, obtaining watertight expert evidence was the linchpin. [more on this in another article later-ed]. The prosecution could drop charges only if we could present irrefutable forensic evidence from the finest experts we could find, backed up by peer-reviewed expert analysis, and bolstered by additional expert evidence surrounding it.” (p. 234)

Bryant’s and Henein’s determination to avoid court was all about public perception and his political career. It had nothing to with a strong case. How could it? They hadn’t even started to build their defence when they made this decision.

“But we knew exactly how the trial would go. Some days are good days for the defence but inevitably some are bad. In the early days the prosecution would present its case, including witnesses with perhaps damning testimony; sometimes there would be a break between the witnesses’ examination on the stand by the prosecutor and Marie’s cross-examination. If one of those breaks was at the end of the day, or before the noon-time broadcasts, then the news the next day would be the damaging assertions, only later dismantled by Marie. For those who tuned into the trial randomly, that day’s news would be all they remembered about the trial.” (p231)

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Eye Witness Statements in Michael Bryant, Darcy Allan Sheppard Case

May 25, 2013

In court, Richard Peck and Mark Sandler dismiss the following nineteen eyewitness statements as inconsistent. After reading these statements it appears Peck and Sandler expect witnesses to be robots, scientists and engineers.

On April 14, 2010 Mark Sandler told the court they would be re-interviewing witnesses. As we learn more it appears that Sandler did not interview most, if not all of these eyewitnesses. Why? We don’t absolutely know but it does appear that prosecutors, Mark Sandler and Richard Peck  avoided any investigation that would prevent them from withdrawing the charges against Michael Bryant.

 

Michael Bryant

Michael Bryant

Note that:

NONE of the witnesses report Michael Bryant’s car stalling even once.

NONE of the witnesses report that Darcy Allan Sheppard was attempting to attack Michael Bryant

The text of the statements below are taken directly and entirely from the Police reconstruction report. Bryant Watch has not edited them in any way. All we have added is the word “Witness” in front of each witness number so that they are easier to separate.

———————————————————————————————————-

The following were summarized accounts of witness statements collected by the Toronto

Police Service.

Witness 9.1

in the center of the road (Bloor Street West east of Avenue Road).

Heard yelling, looked back towards the noise and saw a black convertible in oncoming traffic in the opposite lane.

Saw the convertible drive up onto the sidewalk half on and half off the road with man hanging off side of car hitting trees, post and mailbox attempting to get the guy off the car.

They went past my line of vision and I looked over and saw the guy lying on the ground in a pool of blood.

I told to call police.

I went up to the guy and told him not to move he was trying to get up.

It took 5-10 minutes for the Fire department to show up and they started first aid.

The car was black two door convertible basically a sedan, driving fast at least 60-70 with the guy hanging on.

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Unprecedented Cooperation – Mark Sandler and Michael Bryant

May 23, 2013

When Richard peck was appointed special prosecutor in the case against Michael Bryant he brought along Toronto lawyer Mark Sandler to manage the case. Mr. Sandler directed much of the case. He interviewed witnesses, made virtually all of the court appearances for the Crown and it was he, and not Richard Peck, who interviewed Michael Bryant and his wife, Susan Abramovitch in March 2010. Sandler was also the person who suggested that the Crown interview the Bryant’s only after all the crown’s evidence was presented to Bryant and his lawyers.

Mark Sandler is a Toronto criminal defence attorney who is well established in the Toronto criminal defence bar. He is a partner at Cooper, Sandler Shime & Bergman LLP and is a three term bencher at the Law Society of Upper Canada. He has a history of working closely with the Ministry of the Attorney General during Michael Bryant’s term. He is a prominent member of the Advocates Society which was co-founded by his partner Austin M. Cooper.  Michael Bryant’s attorney, Marie Henein was the vice-president of the Advocates Society in 2009 and its president in 2010-11.

Sandler’s daughter worked as an assistant Crown Attorney in the Attorney General’s office and he wrote a book with Susan Abramovitch’s lawyer, Doug Hunt.

In his book “28 Seconds” Bryant went into detail about special prosecutor Richard Peck’s background but he avoided any mention of Mr. Sandler’s background, experience and connections.

In “28 Seconds” on page 205 Michael Bryant wrote:

“But I learned something about the criminal defence bar in Toronto. They stick together and work together to help each other, even if they’re not retained on the case. This doesn’t apply to every lawyer, but amongst those who reciprocate, there is a small group of colleagues who advance the interests of the accused, at large. So Marie was able to consult with any number of senior criminal lawyers including a couple of my own supporters, who happened to be strong legal minds.”

Here is a table (2 pages) documenting some of the connections between Mark Sandler and Michael Bryant. SANDLER – BRYANT Collaboration


Media Backgrounder

May 21, 2013

Police Reconstruction report shows Michael Bryant as aggressor

May 21, 2013

Documents raise troubling questions regarding prosecutor’s decision to drop charges against former Attorney General.

Darcy Allan Sheppard’s father has released the police collision reconstruction report, officers’ memo books, summary records of 911 calls and other documents that point to questions about freelance prosecutor, Richard Peck’s explanation of his decision that relate to his son’s death.The police reconstruction report contains statements from nineteen eyewitnesses, none of whom mention Michael Bryant’s car stalling. Witnesses clearly paint Bryant as the aggressor, confirming what the surveillance video has already shown.

According to media reports of the court proceedings Michael Bryant received the police reconstruction report on or about March 5, 2010. According to Bryant’s book Mark Sandler interviewed him on March 23, 2010. It should be noted that the reconstruction report makes no mention of the possibility that Bryant’s car could have stalled. It seems this claim may have first been made on March 23, 2010.

View the police reconstruction report here.

From the conclusions of the police report:

Mr. BRYANT struck Mr. SHEPPARD not once, but twice from a stopped position on Bloor Street West east of the pedestrian signalized intersection which was captured on a building security cameras at#102 Bloor Street West.

There was no physical evidence, or independent witness statements suggesting Mr.SHEPPARD affected the steering of the Saab, or anything to suggest he physically attacked Mr. BRYANT.

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Media Advisory – Bryant / Sheppard Case

May 16, 2013