A legal document that’s mapped out what is and isn’t acceptable in a piece of evidence submitted for a long-running trial is offering a peek into Hells Angels clubhouses.
The document was submitted by the civil forfeiture director, who is trying to get Hells Angels clubhouses in Kelowna, East Vancouver and Nanaimo forfeited to the government as the instruments of criminal activity. The Hells Angels have counter-sued the government in an attempt to keep their property, claiming the Civil Forfeiture Act is unconstitutional.
In his analysis of a report used in the case, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Barry Davies discusses apparent biases in the by retired Ontario Provincial Police Det. Staff Sgt. Len Isnor.
Davies ruled that Isnor’s evidence about Hells Angels establishes “serious concerns with respect to the extent that his opinions are tainted by confirmation bias, speculation and tautological reasoning.”
On Jan. 14, 2016, Isnor conducted an inspection of the exterior of the Kelowna Hells Angels clubhouse, and on March 4, 2016, acting on the consent order issued by Davies, undertook an inspection of the interior of the clubhouse and its contents.
Davies ruled that some of Isnor’s interpretation of 156 photographs of the Kelowna clubhouse and its contents, as well as his commentary and opinion based upon that interpretation, is inadmissible as expert evidence.
“Again, I reach that conclusion because of the extent to which much of Isnor’s interpretation of the photographs of the Kelowna clubhouse and his commentary and opinions based upon his interpretation exhibit confirmation bias,” writes Davies.
Knickknacks and photographs
Isnor goes over the exterior aspects of the clubhouse, including fencing, hedges, gates, and the intercom system and cameras and offers commentary.
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“Fencing and gates like this goes beyond protection from burglary or vandalism, there can be only one purpose: to protect the occupants from attacks by rivals and to impede any entries made by law enforcement,” he wrote.
Davies said that Isnor’s suggestion that the gates at the Kelowna clubhouse are to impede law enforcement are speculative, prejudicial and made without admissible evidentiary foundation.
“As far as I am aware all entries into the Kelowna clubhouse by law enforcement have been judicially authorized and were unimpeded,” said Davies.
Isnor also took issue with a motorcycle in the driveway during his visit.
“These are the type of things the HA do to intimidate and I believe the HA placed that motorcycle there purposely to cause me to be apprehensive before I start my inspection,” Isnor said.
That commentary, Davies said, illustrated “willingness to cloak even such an insignificant matter with prejudicial commentary.”
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Isnor also noted a photograph of a dinosaur being ridden by a smaller reptilian figure with a Hells Angles death symbol.
He stated that they are for “Intimidation and a reminder to individuals in the clubhouse the HA organization is large, organized, closely bonded, violent and that membership provides beneficial privilege. Two (2) photos placed on the wall were most likely hung on the wall for my benefit,” reads a portion of the report.
Davies takes issue with that and said Isnor’s commentary about that statute as well as his suggestion that two photographs were placed there for his benefit evidence confirmation bias.
“To the extent Mr. Isnor again personalized the motives of the members of the Kelowna Hells Angels in respect of his inspection the opinions he expresses are speculative and conclusory,” said Davies.
In another piece of evidence, Isnor said a “White/black board is used to communicate in regards to conversations that may be intercepted by law enforcement of their criminality or sensitive business of their HA organization. This boardroom table will be used for their HA meetings and weekly church meetings.”
Davies pointed out that no source is cited for Mr. Isnor’s opinion about the use of white boards and “Mr. Isnor acknowledged that he has never attended a “church meeting.” His opinion evidence is also contrary to the evidence of Mr. Atwell adduced by the director,” he said.
“Without identification of any source of his opinion I am sufficiently concerned with its reliability that I have determined that any probative value attaching to it is outweighed by the risks to the trial process that can emanate from such unsubstantiated assertions in the cloak of opinion evidence.”
The trial is scheduled to pick back up on April 1.