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Court Declines to Order Production of Crown Brief Due to Ongoing Criminal Prosecution

In Joseph v. Debs, 2022 ONSC 837, the court declined to order production of the Crown Brief in an ongoing sexual assault prosecution.

The plaintiff brought the motion in the context of a civil action alleging libel. The plaintiff claims that the defendant defamed him on Twitter by accusing him of sexually assaulting her when she was a minor.

The plaintiff argued that production of the Crown Brief was required or else the civil action would be effectively stayed.

Justice Goodman stated that the integrity of a criminal prosecution is a serious policy and public interest consideration. Materials within an ongoing criminal investigation are protected from production by a qualified public interest privilege, which can only be pierced in a narrow set of circumstances.

Justice Goodman indicated that disclosure of the Crown Brief at this stage could compromise the integrity of the ongoing sexual assault prosecution, including tainting of witness evidence.

Further, the plaintiff had not established that it would be unfair for him to proceed to the civil trial without the Crown Brief documents. Moreover, the civil action was still in its infancy and there was no urgency to obtain the Crown Brief.  In addition, the plaintiff failed to establish that at least some of the requested records could not be obtained by alternate means.

Justice Goodman ordered the plaintiff’s motion to be adjourned until the conclusion of the criminal prosecution.