by Jane Gaffin
(This updated backgrounder to the complicated Carlos Trilogy is based on a commentary written by Jane Gaffin for the Yukon News, August 7, 2000, which prompted the Crown prosecutor to threaten her with a defamation suit. This revised article will provide an introduction to the complete 795-page eBook Justice Served Up Yukonslavia Style: The Shameful Conspiracy Behind the Allen Carlos Trilogy, 1998 to 2004 that can be viewed at the below link)
“One’s home is one’s castle,” the defense lawyer told the territorial court during a failed attempt to quash a search warrant concocted by the police to raid Allen Carlos’ home.
“Owners of firearms deserve the same respect as any other citizen,” added Edmonton-based Richard Fritze, who specializes in firearms cases.
There was a big demand for his business cards from a legion of Carlos supporters who packed the courtroom for two-and-a-half days to hear the trial.
Carlos, a well-known Whitehorse-based mineral prospector, pleaded not guilty to three counts of storage violations that had to be filed twice before the RCMP finally got it right on February 29, 2000.
The original Information document, filed and sworn before Justice of the Peace Dean Cameron in the territorial court on February 28, 2000, was technically incorrect. RCMP S/Cst. S. Shipman had confused “prohibited” and “restricted”; the error-ridden document had to be amended and re-sworn before another JP, R. Studds, the next day to replace the original document.
The charges pertained to storage of firearms under the inescapable Section 86 of the Criminal Code, which had been changed to reflect new laws flowing from the hotly contentious C-68 firearms bill, enacted in 1995 under Prime Minister Jean Chrétien’s Liberal government.
However, the four plainclothes police officers, who barged into Carlos’ private dwelling on February 15, 2000, didn’t have the right to be there in the first place.
The police were on a fishing expedition based on an unsubstantiated story. When they invaded his house, they found and seized his valuable gun collection which contained handguns the police knew about and longarms the police did not know about.
Carlos lawfully owned all the guns, and dutifully registered the ones necessary with the police for many years and had obtain permits to carry handguns in the bush for his prospecting work.
Carlos held grandfather rights to own firearms which, at the relevant time, had been recently categorized as “prohibited” or “restricted”.
As was pointed out in court, the Criminal Code provides for a person to keep loaded guns in the house as a means of protecting private property and family from intruders.
Break and entries, theft and property damage were on the rise in the Yukon. According to Ottawa’s statistics, the territory had the highest crime rate in Canada.
However, Carlos was charged with offenses arising from execution of a flimsy warrant cooked up in a backroom between a complainant and the cops.
Because the warrant was not part of charges, Carlos did not have the opportunity to face his accuser in court, as used to be the way justice was served.
Until Sandra Orban’s name was revealed for the court record, she was cloaked in secrecy as an “unascertained” person, which translated into something as gossamer as a myth.
The police shouldn’t have been in Carlos’ house. But they were. The ordeal was surreal. It was more frightening than confronting a grizzly at close quarters, Carlos related later. “Nobody should ever underestimate the trauma of a surprise house invasion.”
So what happened to our property rights? What happened to the day when our private lives were private without the state’s encroachment?
A man’s house used to be his castle. Now it’s open season for the police and inspectors to walk in and take what they want, when they want.
In some circumstances, search warrants aren’t even needed; but a piece of paper signed by a judge looks official regardless that he illegally signed a flawed warrant authorizing police to demand a ghost gun.
The application for a search warrant, which is supposed to be squeaky clean, claimed that Carlos had six handguns in his possession, when, in fact, he had only five, for which he was well-papered.
One had been reported “Lost or Stolen” and duly recorded long ago by the police as being sent out for repairs and it never came back in the mail.
But Const. Gork didn’t see fit to make a last minute check in another database to ensure his information was accurate. Judge Heino Lilles, therefore, improperly signed him off to demand a gun that didn’t exist.
These gung-ho cops who couldn’t remember the past are the types who are condemned to repeat history. Historical accounts relate countless crimes the state has committed against property.
The Nazis, among others, would order the police to make surprise visits to a house in the middle of the night, kick in the door and seize the valuables. During the war trials, the police were held accountable for their actions; some were executed.
RCMP Const. Wayne Gork, who led the raid, was receiving direction from the more experienced Cpl. Frank Campbell. Both were witnesses for the Crown.
Gork, an instructor and purported firearms ace, had told the court he had unloaded five cartridges from the Ruger Super Blackhawk.
The high-calibre handgun was among the collection Carlos kept in a locked, regulation safe, designated and designed for storage of arms and ammunition.
The number one rule is to treat any gun as though it’s loaded, especially when you know it is. You don’t wrestle it.
The Ruger is a common type gun. Anybody with firearms savvy would know instinctively how to load and unload it.
Gork, who was not familiar with this specific gun, was handling it in a very dangerous manner, although the chances of the gun accidently firing were negligible due to the manufacturer building in safety features for handlers like him. Gork admitted under cross examination that Carlos had to unload the gun.
For some stupid reason, he had convinced himself that Carlos was a threat to “public safety”. Of course, public safety is the RCMP’s mandate, a number one priority; “officer safety” is the shop-worn mantra that gives the police legal license to transcend the law.
However, “public safety” had absolutely zippo to do with the subsequent charges regarding storage infractions of loaded firearms in Carlos’ private dwelling, for he was neither charged with “uttering threats” nor anything of a violent nature–not even disturbing the peace–that would have to be proved in court.
When the police can’t find any other obvious illegal improprieties, to be on the safe side they will always hit the gun owners with trumped up storage infractions.
While the defense lawyer was challenging the validity of the warrant, it came to light that regardless of “public safety” being the excuse to raid Carlos’ home, it had taken a back seat to officers’ vacations, shift rotations and “whatnot”.
Gork’s concern for public safety stretched from January, 1999 to February 14, 2000 before he finally requested Judge Lilles to sign a little Valentine’s Day love note.
In other words, this was not a speedy process. It took Const. Gork more than a year to get around to drafting an application for a search warrant with assistance from Cpl. Campbell et al and requesting the signature of a territorial judge.
Defense lawyer Richard Fritze submitted that Judge Lilles should not have signed it.
Under cross-examination, Gork testified that Lilles never inquired about the identity, character or motive of the person whose complaint generated the warrant.
During Fritze’s attempt to quash the warrant, he revealed the person cloaked in anonymity was Sandra Orban, a federal mining land-use inspector.
A female environmentalist employed as a federal mining inspector was a blatant conflict of interest and destined to cause problems. But the government didn’t care.
As a cautionary measure, any mining man who encounters a female inspector in the field may want to seriously consider turning tail and running like the wind. Otherwise, he, too, could end up in a legal mess of monumental proportions.
It also was disclosed, for the record, that the police had talked to “Hugh Copland and others” who did not feel at all threatened by Carlos.
Copland was the federal engineer of mines and had known Carlos for years and done mining business with him in the past. “Others” referred to a male mining land-use inspector working in the Elijah Smith Government Building (known locally as Red Square.)
Yet the police went ahead with a warrant, which is supposed to be squeaky clean and above reproach.
Lilles authorized the warrant on the basis of an “unascertained” person.
The nature of inspector Sandra Orban’s complaint and what transpired was not examined in those incomplete territorial court proceedings but, hopefully, would be addressed in more detail in the written submissions (or someplace).
Carlos’ gun-related charges flowed from a piece of unconstitutional firearms legislation that reverses the democratic principles of justice. Contrary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the accused gun owner is guilty until s/he can prove innocence; the court doesn’t have to prove anything.
As was demonstrated with the Carlos case, accusations for a crime never committed can be so flimsy that it is next to impossible to prove innocence under “reverse onus”.
Therefore, the public should not assume the accused is guilty of any wrongdoings just because somebody made unfounded accusations that resulted in storage charges being laid.
It’s the legislation that is wrong for allowing such despicable acts to be perpetrated against responsible, law-abiding citizens.
It was disclosed that two of the four participating police officers were puzzled as to the purpose of this debacle, which was to set up Carlos as an example for other gun owners.
The controversial gun-registration program, which has been misrepresented by Ottawa as a method to reduce violent crime, is really a system designed to give police access to a database and hand pick their next victim for a raid.
Deputy judge Deborah Livingstone warned Fritze on several occasions that a “raid” is not a “raid”. It is called “executing the warrant”. The defense lawyer apologized profusely for his slip of the tongue.
Three of the four officers who “executed the warrant” were trained members of an emergency response team (ERT). They proceeded on the assumption this was a “potentially” dangerous situation that could “escalate into a standoff”.
They forced their way inside the door of the Carlos house, located in an upscale neighborhood and flanked by houses owned by judges, lawyers, geologists and other professionals.
Once the hyped police pushed their way past a protesting Mrs. Carlos and were standing inside the foyer, the woman of the house adamantly refused to allow them to parade around her spotless house until they removed their muddy boots.
Gork and Campbell, glassy-eyed and impatient, were there to seize guns. They demanded to be directed to where they were stored–not now, but right now.
Not so fast, Mrs. Carlos cautioned. It was bad enough they were raiding her house and invading her privacy, but for sure, she would not allow them to track up her immaculate abode. Every visitor into her castle removed footwear. Cops were no exception.
Off with the boots, boys. Or there will be no raid.
This time, the cops had to comply with an order. How much of a threat did these tough members of an Emergency Response Team think Carlos posed to society if they were willing to comically parade around raiding his house in stocking feet?
The commotion of six people in the foyer brought the Carloses’ 21-year-old son, Luke, asleep after working a nightshift, from his bedroom.
“What’s going on out here?” It became apparent before the words were out of his mouth.
“Stay with your dad!” ordered his mother. “So they don’t do anything to him. So they don’t hurt him. Watch! I want you there as a witness at all times.”
The tall, strapping youth shadowed his dad, who led the party downstairs to the 450-pound gun-storage safe.
The police leading the parade were so narrowly focused on plundering loot, they had been negligent in staking out the house first to find out who might reside there before barging in.
It was incredulous that they never bothered asking the young adult’s identity for their records. Neither Gork nor Campbell could tell the court the name of a young fellow who was inside the house, and what he was doing there.
Obviously, they knew that the residents at this address were not dangerous. When they approached the front door, they had not fanned out to surveil the house for danger. Instead, the Group of Four huddled on the doorstep, knowing full well this was a highly-respectable, community-minded family.
But, of course, Mounties of their ilk like the easy targets. They don’t like busting down doors of drug lords and other undesirables who own illegal weapons, burglarize homes and businesses, and commit rapes, murders, assault and other crimes of force. That would be too dangerous. They might get hurt. Hardened criminals bite back.
After complying with Mrs. Carlos’ “Zero Tolerance for Muddy Boots” policy, they continued the raid in their stocking feet, which later made them the butt of many public jokes.
Despite the three days reserved to hear the case, time prevented the trial from finishing.
Deborah Livingstone, a federal circuit judge who presided in Ontario, was parachuted in as a deputy judge to hear this case before the territorial court on Wednesday and Thursday, July 26 and 27, 2000. It looked like a deliberate measure to inconvenience Carlos who had to come out of the bush during a short, busy summer season of developing his gold property.
A casual observer does not understand the cat-and-mouse games that transpire between the judge and the Crown prosecutor and/or the defense lawyer.
What was very discernible was a highly-respected citizen and family man shouldn’t have been sitting at the defense table trying to ward off indictable offenses that can carry jail time.
Yet, there sat Carlos with his fate pivoting on the judge’s plane ticket. Deputy judge Livingstone blamed the time constraints on defense lawyer Fritze.
Based on available information prior to Frize coming from Edmonton to Whitehorse, he believed the case could probably be heard in two days. Most of the first day, however, was taken up with procedural matters and a half dozen recesses.
Yet Livingstone had advised from the outset, the court would sit for two days only. Her term ended in Whitehorse on Friday, July 28.
The trial had to be compressed because of her commitments to go home to Ontario. “Due to time limitations” was a shop-worn reminder the judge reiterated numerous times throughout the proceedings.
She was not impressed to finally relent and be forced into a Friday morning sitting.
Throughout the proceedings, the judge frustrated Fritze, and he was making her angry.
She often noted failure to understand how his material was relevant. “Mr. Fritze, I don’t want to tell you how to present your case,” she would say, then would rule against his line of questioning.
When he had to outline his strategy, she would tell Crown prosecutor David McWhinnie how she expected him to argue a certain point when he had the floor.
Neither would the judge allow Frize to argue that a specific section of the Criminal Code violated his client’s constitutional rights. She did not believe her court was the proper forum for the argument.
Two years later, almost to the day, an Ontario Court of Appeal ruling in an unrelated case proved that Fritze’s arguments regarding Section 117.04(1) did indeed violate an individual’s constitutional rights.
On the last morning of the Whitehorse hearing, Fritze brought forth an impromptu expert witness who stood in the witness box while the judge and the lawyer argued. The judge ruled against hearing from ex-RCMP officer Ken Gabb.
The clock ran out about 1 p.m. Fritze and the Crown prosecutor were instructed to submit written final arguments and responses to the judge in Ontario.
Not only should justice be done but justice also should be seen to be done. Denying the public the right to hear the whole case in an open forum didn’t look good.
A judge running away from a criminal case before it was finished would be unheard of in Ontario, where Livingstone presided, or in Alberta where Fritze practiced.
But certain procedural matters are allowed in the Yukon jurisdiction because of “remoteness” and because somebody said so.
This is what is meant by “justice served up Yukon style”.
However, only a fool tries to out-judge a judge.
Carlos was acquitted on all counts in territorial court, mainly due to the brilliantly-delivered testimony of his wife, Paula, who had to be fetched from the Deputy Minister of Justice’s office where she worked.
During a series of cross-examination questions, Crown prosecutor David McWinnie asked “Have you ever seen (the loaded .357 handgun inside the stereo cabinet) before?”
“Never, and I do dust.” She provided one of her disarming, angelic smiles, further upstaging the Crown prosecutor, as a murmur of laughter rippled through the courtroom.
Four words–“and I do dust”–won that case which could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, anyway.
The Crown appealed; Carlos was acquitted again in a two-to-one decision; Crown appealed again to the Supreme Court of Canada for a hearing on April 17, 2002, where the defendant was criminally convicted on all three counts for a law that does not exist.
Normally, a Supreme Court decision takes up to a year to be rendered. Seven justices bushwhacked Carlos with a pre-ordained, five-paragraph verdict written and read in two official languages in about 10 minutes.
Justice Served Up Yukonslavia Style: The Shameful Conspiracy Behind the Allen Carlos Trilogy contains a collection of articles, letters, observations, philosophies and laws surrounding the 30 months the government put Mr. and Mrs. Carlos and their three children through a needless and expensive hell.
Besides the state demonizing gun owners, the badge-bearing bullies and bench warmers hanging out in the so-called Justice department were determined to make an example of Carlos to demonstrate to “obstinate gun owners” what to expect from the state’s heavy hand if they didn’t shut up and obey the relatively-new non-Charter-proofed gun laws.
The official PDF version of that complicated case is posted on this site and can be accessed from the link shown below. (The CD is also available for $10, plus taxes and mailing, from Mac’s Fireweed Bookstore, Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada by phoning the toll-free number 1-800-661-0508.)
You can read about–and maybe get some pointers if ever faced with the same dilemma–how he ultimately won against those dirty, lying, cheating, corrupt, conniving bureaucratic lackeys who kept conjuring up stumbling blocks to put in front of this man who eventually proved to be cagier than the whole government lot ganged up against him.
He ended up making more money from his independent prospecting endeavors than they did living off the bureaucratic dole, albeit the Crown prosecutor tried demonizing Carlos as “unemployed” just because his warped thinking led him to believe that if the mining industry was suffering a slump Carlos couldn’t possible have a job in the field, therefore he didn’t need his guns.
Last time friends looked, parked inside the Carloses’ garage was a shiny new ebony Mercedes…which speaks volumes about his successful, long-term career as an independent prospector, as those luxurious cars don’t come cheap.
And don’t forget it, all you incongruous mixture of politically-correct, green-faced Ford and Chevy drivers!
View full book-length manuscript at:
Jane Gaffin is a freelance writer living in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada, and can be contacted at email@example.com.
Updated February 28, 2013