Superior Court Justice Denies Waterloo Regional Police Service Officer Application to Testify Anonymously in Upcoming Beau Baker Inquest
On October 25th, 2018, Honourable Justice P.J. Flynn denied an application by a Waterloo Regional Police Service Officer (“Officer Doe”) to testify anonymously at an upcoming Coroner’s Inquest.
On April 2, 2015, Officer Doe responded to a 911 call placed by civilian Beau Baker. The events that followed concluded in Officer Doe fatally shooting and causing the death of Beau Baker. Falconers LLP lawyers, Julian Falconer and Akosua Matthews represent Jackie Baker, the mother of Beau.
A Coroner’s Inquest into the death of Beau Baker will be held in February 2019. Officer Doe wished to testify behind a screen, use a pseudonym in place of his real name, make arrangements to attend court through a back door or testify remotely, and requested a publication ban for the media.
“Better the Gleam of Sunlight than that of Whitewash” – Court
In Honourable Justice P.J. Flynn’s ruling, the Court stated that there is a high level of public interest in this matter and that the open court principle is “to be a cornerstone of the common law where publicity, openness and access are fundamental in establishing and maintaining public confidence in the integrity of the courts…and why the parties and the public at large abide by the decisions of the courts.”
Openness and public access to all aspects of court proceedings are meant to rebuild public trust, Falconers LLP lawyer, Akosua Matthews stated that if the inquest was to proceed partly behind closed doors that it “is going to breed mistrust between society, citizens and the police.”
Agreeing with Ms. Matthews’ argument, Honourable Justice P.J. Flynn stated in his ruling, “There is a high level of public interest in this matter. The public has the right to scrutinize and comment upon the administration of justice in this coroner’s inquest. That can only be effectively accomplished in the bright of the day: there is no better disinfectant than bright sunlight.”