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EVIDENCE - Privilege - Documents - Privileged relationships - Religious communications

Wednesday, March 10, 2021 @ 6:21 AM  

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Motion by Beam for certiorari to quash a production order. The RCMP received a complaint regarding the historical sexual assault of then 14-year-old KM by LGS, both members of Beam’s church. As outlined in the Information to Obtain, during the investigation, the RCMP learned the assault had been brought to the attention of the church elders, including Beam, who had met with LGS to discuss the assault and learned there was a record of the elders meeting prepared by Beam. The RCMP obtained a production order for the record of the elders meeting.

HELD: Application dismissed. The ITO provided sufficient credibly based evidence to justify the issuance of the production order. The conditions attached to the production order ensured the safekeeping of the document while allowing Beam to object based on religious privilege. The meeting between the elders and LGS was held in the expectation of confidentiality. The record was highly relevant in the criminal context. In the circumstances of the case, the chilling effect on the members of Beam’s congregation from the disclosure of the record would not be substantial. The balancing of the interests of the state in investigating a potential sexual assault of a young girl outweighed the claim of religious privilege advanced by Beam. The document was to be disclosed to the RCMP as required by the production order.

Beam v. Canada (Attorney General), [2021] M.J. No. 14, Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench, J.A. Menzies J., January 12, 2021. Digest No. TLD-March82021006