I can tell you that I don't spend a lot of time in traffic ticket court. I'm dealing with matters where police evidence is more often more involved than “I stopped his car, I gave him a ticket, I moved on”.
That said, I'm sure my friend will agree with this proposition that Crown and defence counsel routinely, before a trial, try to narrow the issues. If there is an officer whose evidence is not strictly required and we can put it in an agreed statement of facts before the court, or if it's just really not that important for either of us, even though they may have relevant evidence to give on some issues that neither of us think is going to make any difference at trial, then we can dispense with the evidence already. That already happens. It happens a lot.
I did a murder trial that took a long time, but we had 14 separate and distinct agreed statements of fact on different sets of issues, which we put before the jury. It's a system that works, and that the litigators themselves, who know what is and is not important, can control to ensure that the court has everything it needs to make a safe and sound finding of fact.
I recognize that sometimes officers sit around for a while. That is perhaps a little less efficient than we'd all like to see. There was an article written by Michael Bryant, former attorney general of Ontario, in which he said that efficient justice is kind of like efficient music or efficient circumcision—not a really good idea. There's a certain point at which efficiency can trump justice, and you cannot take efficiency to the point where it gets in the way of justice being done.
There has to be a point somewhere. I think that forcing the defence to apply for an officer to come and give evidence so that they can be cross-examined and, in some cases, having to reveal why it is that they want to cross-examine that officer when they are trying to establish something, like a charter breach or something else.... We do, in our notices of charter applications, set out the basic things that we're alleging, but it is sometimes.... There's a set of cases out of Alberta called Evenson, which talks about the danger of giving too much information to a witness in advance, even a well-intentioned witness, because it can change in retrospect, when they think about things, their own memory of how something went down at the time.
Cross-examination is a difficult process and one that we have to preserve and protect, so—