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.
An inter-city investigation was initiated by the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT) after the police received information from informants that L and M were involved in a drug trafficking operation. Surveillance teams observed L and M engaged in suspected drug transactions and the investigation expanded to include N and E who had a history of drug related activity. Various investigative tools were approved by court order to monitor the targets including tracking warrants and other warrants authorizing covert entry of residential premises and the production of pre-boarding screening information from the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA). The surveillance eventually led the police to a house and a storage locker where video cameras recorded a person the police believed to be M. Guns and forged identification documents were located when the police covertly entered the premises. Mr Rice was retained by L who has been charged with multiple firearm and forgery offences.
A Toyota Camry was being driven through a residential neighbourhood at night without the headlights on. A police officer followed in a marked police vehicle and initiated a traffic stop. The Toyota parked in the street and D got out. D walked away and initially refused to comply with the officer’s command to return to the Toyota. The officer approached the Toyota and smelled a strong odour of marihuana. D denied having any marihuana and produced an expired medical marihuana card. He was arrested for possession of marihuana. The officer found a bundle of cash during a search of D incidental to the arrest. The officer also located cocaine, marihuana, ten suspected Fentanyl pills and more cash in a sports bag in the vehicle. Two cell phones were next to the sports bag. One of them was constantly ringing. D was charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking. A trial date has been scheduled.
- Firearm Offences, Possession of Drugs for the Purpose of Trafficking, Possession of Proceeds of Crime
The Edmonton police received information from a confidential informant that B was using his business as a hub for drug trafficking. Live surveillance was conducted over numerous days in the vicinity of the main entrance. The police observed interactions between people coming and going that they believed were consistent with drug trafficking. During the investigation the police also located B’s residence and identified his motor vehicle. A search warrant was obtained for the business, residence and vehicle. B was stopped when driving his vehicle away from the residence and arrested. The business premises and residence were then searched after being secured by tactical teams. During the searches the police denied B the right to contact a lawyer contrary to s 10(b) of the Charter of Rights. A handgun, cash, drug paraphernalia and various quantities of cocaine and methamphetamine were seized from the business premises. A court date is pending.
The police began an investigation in Calgary targeting N as the suspected head of a drug trafficking network. Surveillance was set up at N’s residence that identified other targets. The police obtained warrants authorizing surreptitious entries into the residence and the installation of covert cameras that captured money counting activities the police believed were related to the drug trade. Two wiretap authorizations were then obtained to intercept the cell phone communications of N and other associates. H was intercepted during the second wiretap authorization. He was the suspected mid-level supplier to street level traffickers. The police also obtained warrants for the installation of motor vehicle tracking devices and the deployment of a cell site simulator to identify encrypted communication devices. H and five other defendants were separately charged with conspiracy, possession of drugs for the purpose of trafficking and a criminal organization count. A trial date has been scheduled.
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.