Current & Curious: An important, but apparently hot potato

Ghassan Atout lives in Toronto and along with his wife owns his own home. Atout is a Canadian citizen and works as a luxury automobile salesperson. He has a license to possess restricted firearms, though he does not actually own any firearms.

 

On July 27, 2012 a Justice of the Peace [JP] in Toronto, on the strength of police information obtained largely from a confidential informant, issued a warrant authorizing police to search Atout’s residence for illegal handguns. Upon issuing the warrant the JP further ordered the warrant package sealed, on the basis that public disclosure of the information would reveal the identity of a confidential informant.

Police executed the warrant and found nothing. Atout was cooperative throughout the search. No criminal charges were ever laid in connection with that search.

Finding the entire experience to be most humiliating Atout sought an order unsealing the warrant on the basis that there could be “no possible basis for the police to reasonably believe” that he was in possession of illegal handguns. Nordheimer J issued the unsealing order, on consent, requiring that the warrant package be unsealed, edited for the purpose of protecting the identity of the confidential informant, and that the redacted materials provided to Atout.

Thereafter, a dispute arose between the Crown and police as to who is responsible for the editing of the unsealed package: 2013 ONSC 1312

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