Will Convicted Heroin Trafficker Receive New Trial Because Juror Accessed the Internet During Jury Deliberations?

Update:

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Criminal Lawyer Deepak Paradkar, representing Lovejit Bains, 36 of Stoney Creek, wants a Superior Court judge to declare a mistrial and call a judicial inquiry after Brampton court staff discovered internet material in one of the juror's notes.

A man convicted of heroin trafficking in Mississauga should get a new trial because a juror turned to the internet to get legal information while deliberating, the accused’s lawyer says.

Deepak Paradkar wants a Superior Court judge to declare a mistrial and call a judicial inquiry after Brampton court staff discovered internet material in one of the juror’s notes.

The controversial discovery came earlier this month after Lovejit Bains, 36, of Stoney Creek, and Harmeet Pannu, 33, of Brampton, were found guilty of possession of heroin for the purpose of trafficking. Peel Regional Police arrested the men in their cars on Oct. 3, 2010 in the area of Derry and Torbram Rds.

Jurors deliberated for 20 minutes before reaching their verdict.

Paradkar, Bains’ lawyer, will ask Justice Fletcher Dawson to declare a mistrial when he appears in court tomorrow morning.

Court staff was cleaning the jury room after the guilty verdicts when a staff member discovered the document in a juror’s binder. It included material that had been cut and pasted from the internet, Paradkar said.

Part of it is from an article on American news site The Daily Beast about the notorious case of Casey Anthony. In 2011, the Florida woman was found not guilty of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and aggravated manslaughter of a child in the death of her 2-year-old daughter.

The verdict was met with public outrage. The article is titled “Casey Anthony Murder Acquittal: No Sense in Jury Rooms.”

“The decision to acquit Casey Anthony of killing her daughter Caylee has shocked and baffled many people, but some experts say it’s just the latest sign of juries’ ignorance, failure to use common sense, and inability — or disinclination — to properly weigh evidence,” reads an excerpt from the article found in the juror’s binder.

Paradkar said the document violates the judge’s orders not to consult other sources when deliberating.

“On its face, the note/document found in the jurors’ room demonstrates that there was if not a real apprehension of bias against (my client), at least an appearance of bias that cries out for the remedy of a mistrial,” Paradkar states in his application for mistrial. “This document seriously undermines the jury system in Canada and the requirements that juries only listen to the law as given by the charge and presiding Justice.”

Other parts of the note includes excerpts from the Canadian Judicial Council website, including the following: “You should also remember, however, that it is nearly impossible to prove anything with absolute certainty. The Crown is not required to do so. Absolute certainty is a standard of proof that does not exist in law.”

The Public Prosecution Service of Canada, which prosecuted the drug case, has yet to respond to a request for comment.

Paradkar is also asking for a judicial inquiry with respect to the document so that members of the jury can be brought in for questioning.

“It is evident that someone put this document together and it entered the jury room. The creation of the document itself is a violation of the charge to the jury and clearly violated the fundamental principles of justice that underlie the jury system,” Paradkar said. “To permit the verdict to stand in the circumstances would violate the principles of fundamental justice entrenched under section 7 of the Charter.”

Bains and Pannu were arrested after about one kilogram of heroin with a street value of more than $70,000 was found in a car being driven by Bains. Paradkar argued it wasn’t Bains’ car and that he didn’t know there was a bag of heroin under the front passenger seat.

It wasn’t immediately known if Pannu and his lawyer will also be asking for a mistrial.

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