Mr. Rice has defended clients charged in a broad range of cases including conspiracy, drug trafficking, fraud, money laundering, criminal organization offences, homicide and regulatory offences. The cases discussed here have been selected as representative of Mr. Rice’s practice and experience over the last twenty years. They include jury trials, judge alone trials and cases where it was in the client’s best interests to negotiate a resolution by way of a guilty plea to reduced charges or applications to the courts for a special disposition. The cases also include a selection of complex court applications for remedies under the Charter of Rights involving unreasonable search and seizure, the right to counsel and evidence suppression motions.
The Calgary police had a warrant to search a cellphone seized from M during his arrest for a criminal organization offence. The warrant authorized the search for data including archived text messages, call records, photographs and the contact list. But the judge who granted the warrant failed to impose conditions on the search to protect M’s privacy including any communications with his lawyer. The police reviewed text messages on the cellphone between M and his lawyer, prepared a report on the contents and circulated the report to investigators. Mr. Rice brought a pretrial exclusion motion arguing that the warrant was invalid because it was overly broad and unreasonable. The prosecutor conceded that the search was unreasonable and in breach of solicitor/client privilege under ss. 7 and 8 of the Charter of Rights. The cellphone, its contents, evidence of ownership and possession, and the circumstances of its seizure by the police were excluded from evidence.
An undercover officer with a Calgary police street team was working a bar on 17th Avenue SW which is designated as a high intensity drug trafficking area. Cst. P asked M if he knew where she could “get any soft”. M gave her D’s number. The constable called but there was no answer. She then sent a text: “Hi..it’s Kait. Met your friend M. Can you hook me up?” There was no reply. The constable spoke to M again asking where his friend was. M said he’d get in touch with him but she never saw M again. Cst. P called the number again. A male answered. Cst. P said: “I got your number from M.” The male said his name was D. Cst. P asked “if he was free to meet” and D said in about an hour. They later met at a strip mall where D sold 2.3 grams of cocaine to the undercover officer for $200. D was arrested a week later and charged with drug trafficking and possession of proceeds of crime. A court date is pending.
The police received information from a confidential informant that W was trafficking drugs from a downtown apartment. A hallway surveillance camera was installed to capture people coming and going from the suite. The police then obtained a warrant to make two covert entries and observed large quantities of cocaine and marihuana in the suite. The police intensified surveillance on N, W and F who were frequently observed on the hallway camera. N was followed to a house where the police searched the garbage on multiple occasions locating documents that led them to believe the house was being used to store cash. The police then obtained a wiretap authorization and a warrant to install a video camera and a room probe in the downtown apartment. N retained Mr. Rice when all three men were charged with conspiracy, possession of drugs for the purpose of trafficking and a criminal organization count. A trial date has not been set.
Mr. Rice has been retained by P in this case involving multiple drug and firearm offences. The police set up surveillance at P’s apartment building as a result of receiving information from a confidential informant that he and M were trafficking drugs. Based on further information gathered during ongoing surveillance the police arrested P at a shopping mall and found a wad of cash and some marihuana when they searched him. The police searched P’s cell phone and found that recent calls had been made to B and M. B was then detained by the police shortly after leaving the apartment building. The police searched B’s vehicle and located two bags containing a kilo of methamphetamine and a 9mm hand gun. Two search warrants were executed at P’s apartment and M’s residence where the police found various quantities of cocaine, drug paraphernalia and a large amount of cash. A trial date has not been set.
The Calgary media reported that ninety-five shootings occurred in the city in 2015 – twice as many as in 2014 – and police investigators said that half the incidents were related to organized crime. Fifteen people were killed in those shootings. The police believe that the violence erupted in a conflict between two groups involved in the drug trade. Then, on May 3, 2016, Calgary police commenced a string of arrests that concluded over the following week when search warrants were executed at three city residences. Eight men were arrested. A has been jointly charged with various other defendants in a direct Indictment alleging multiple counts of attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and criminal organization offences. The lengthy investigation included the implementation of three wiretap authorizations during the fall of 2015 that identified eight targets. The police suspect there are more sides to the gang war that requires the use of ongoing labour intensive techniques. A date for pretrial motions has been scheduled in the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta in Calgary.