Judge determines ripping up negotiated plea deal could compromise trial
|Toronto Star 14 Jan 2020 at 17:21|
TORONTO—A prosecution decision to renege on a plea bargain after prospective witnesses were told the accused would admit his guilt would deprive the man of a fair trial, an Ontario court has ruled.
As a result, Superior Court Justice Renee Pomerance ordered enforcement of the deal Jon-Paul Fuller had agreed to rather than make him stand trial.
“The question is ... whether the state conduct meets the threshold of an abuse of process,” Pomerance said in her decision released Friday. “The cumulative effect of the state conduct in this case — the disclosure to Crown witnesses and the subsequent repudiation — has deprived the accused of the right to a fair trial.”
Police had charged Fuller over a large marijuana grow operation. As is routine, Fuller and the prosecutor — a senior and highly experienced Crown lawyer — negotiated a pretrial deal in which he would change his plea to guilty in exchange for a 90-day intermittent sentence and $25,000 fine.
A senior regional justice in Windsor, Ont., approved the proposed agreement in October last year, with the deal expected to be confirmed in open court days later.