B.C. Court of Appeal refuses to allow Ontario attorney general to argue case involving Hells Angels' clubhouses

Justice Christopher Grauer concluded that these arguments would duplicate those being advanced by B.C.'s attorney general or raise issues of limited assistance to the court

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      Last year, B.C.'s director of civil forfeiture suffered a major loss in B.C. Supreme Court.

      It came when Justice Duncan Davies ruled that Hells Angels clubhouses in East Vancouver, Nanaimo, and Kelowna could not be seized because the director believed that they would be instruments of criminal activity in the future.

      The judge acknowledged that there's legal justification for the director to seize property based on past unlawful activity.

      B.C.'s director of civil forfeiture is appealing that ruling.

      But when Ontario's attorney general wanted to join the case as an appellant, this was rejected by B.C.'s highest court.

      "In my view, what the AGO proposes to bring to the table would either duplicate arguments already advanced by the AGBC, or would raise issues of limited assistance to this Court in considering the case before it, and in either event would unduly burden the respondents," Justice Christopher Grauer stated in his oral reasons for judgment.

      He added that a B.C. Court of Appeal ruling would not be binding in Ontario. Moreover, if the case reaches the Supreme Court of Canada, the Ontario attorney general would have the right to seek intervenor status and make arguments.

      In the past, Hells Angels members have been convicted in B.C. courts of criminal offences.

      The earlier ruling by Davies cited testimony by Rick Ciarniello, the longtime spokesperson for the Hells Angels in Vancouver.

      Ciarniello praised the spirit of brotherhood in the club, telling the court that back in 1989 he suffered a bad motorcycle accident when he was a single parent.

      "He said that during his recovery his chapter 'brothers' paid for all of his rent and groceries and never sought repayment," Davies wrote in his decision. "He testified that he had seen similar examples at play and that to him the Hells Angels are 'all about brotherhood'.

      "Although that evidence is self-serving to the extent that Mr. Ciarniello is a member of the Hells Angels and has often been a spokesperson for them, the Director did not seek to challenge that evidence on re-examination."