Shelley Hallett is a Crown attorney in Toronto, Ontario.
Shelley Hallett worked as an assistant Crown attorney in Toronto from 1980 to 1988. During that time frame she held positions as Acting Crown in Kapuskasing and Brockville Ontario. She also served as acting Crown in Guelph, Ontario in 1991.
In 1988 Shelley Hallett was seconded to the Ministry of the Attorney General’s Victim Witness Assistance Program (VWAP). Hallett was asked to and did help train Crowns with respect to the new provisions that had just come into the Criminal Code with respect to child sexual abuse, the new offences of child sexual exploitation, invitation to sexual touching. After that Hallett was seconded to the Court Reform Task Force, a court reform initiated by then Attorney General Ian Scott.
In 1991 Shelley Hallet became counsel in the Crown Law Office, Criminal. She also served on the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee on Victims’ Issues. She served as both director and co-director for a Crown’s course on trial advocacy from 1991 to 1997.
Shelley Hallett became involved in Cornwall’s Project Truth cases in summer 1998. Her PT involvement lasted two-and-a-half years. She replaced Robert Pelletier after he stepped down due to a conflict of interest.
During the sex abuse trial of Jacques Leduc Hallett was accused in court of willful failure to disclose. Many believed that the accusation was a set-up by OPP/Project Truth officers to get themselves off the hook when Leduc’s defence team accused the PT officers of not disclosing. The disclosure related to a benign phone call made by Perry Dunlop to the mother of a victim when PT officers were at the woman’s home.
Murray Segal in the office of the Ontario Attorney General reported the matter of non-disclosure by Hallett to police. Charges were not laid, but Hallett’s career was destroyed..
Shelley Hallett testified at the Cornwall Public Inquiry 19, 20 January 2009
Leduc Trial (#1)
02 March 2001: “Judge made right decision” with commentary by Dick Nadeau
Rumours weren’t Hallett’s focus
CORNWALL PUBLIC INQUIRY
Cornwall Standard Freeholder
23 January 2009
Posted By TREVOR PRITCHARD
The Toronto Crown attorney who was initially given multiple Project Truth files defended her handling of those cases Thursday at the Cornwall Public Inquiry.
In the late 1990s, Shelley Hallett was given carriage of four Project Truth prosecutions and was also asked to provide legal opinions on five cases involving priests accused of sexually abusing children.
Yesterday, Ontario Provincial Police attorney Diane Lahaie took Hallett through those legal opinions, pointing out it took her between 13 and 17 months to get them completed while her successor, Lorne McConnery, only took two-and-a-half months.
Lahaie challenged Hallett on whether she fully understood how the reputations of those five priests – none of whom were ever charged – were affected by the rumours that were swirling in the community.
“The concern about rumours shouldn’t short-circuit a full, thorough examination of the allegations,” said Hallett.
“I thought that that kind of approach to those files would result in the best outcome for all persons involved.”
Hallett’s own lawyer, William Trudell, stepped in after Lahaie suggested the Crown should have considered that there were other men in Cornwall who’d committed suicide before their trials.
“I think that we can all agree if we know someone is vulnerable to suicide . . . none of us would ignore that,” said Trudell. “But there’s no evidence here (that happened), as far as I understand.”
Project Truth was the OPP’s four-year investigation into allegations a clan of pedophiles had exploited children in the Cornwall area.
Although they found no evidence a clan existed, Project Truth did lay 115 charges against 15 men.
One of those men was Jacques Leduc, a city lawyer who stood trial in 2001 on charges he’d sexually abused three teens who had worked on his property just outside the city.
The charges were stayed in 2001, however, after Justice James Chadwick ruled that Hallett had failed to disclose evidence showing the mother of one of Leduc’s alleged victims had spoken about her son’s story with former cop Perry Dunlop.
Meanwhile, Leduc’s lawyer, Danielle Robitaille, suggested there were other oversights in the case relating to disclosure. The videotaped police statement of one of Leduc’s other victims, taken in November 1999, was not turned over to the defence until March 2000, said Robitaille -just before a preliminary inquiry was set to begin.
Hallett said she was waiting for the final transcripts to arrive, without which the video would have been “meaningless.”
“I wasn’t in any way holding on to the video. I was providing it as quickly as I was getting it,” she said.
Tempers flared late Thursday afternoon during Hallett’s cross-examination, when she clashed with Ontario Provincial Police Association attorney Bill Carroll over her relationship with lead Project Truth investigator Pat Hall.
Carroll wanted to know why Hallett would have said words to the effect of “it’s all news to me” during a meeting with Hall and Leduc’s defence team after the mother’s unexpected testimony came out in court.
After more than twenty minutes of wrangling, inquiry commissioner Normand Glaude brought an abrupt end to the proceedings.
“We’re going to adjourn,” said Glaude. “Because you’re tired. I’m tired. We’re going to start this (Friday) at 9:30.”
Article ID# 1400820
Sex-abuse raps reinstated
Lawyer charged in Project Truth ordered to trial again
Tue, January 13, 2004
By BOB KLAGER, Ottawa Sun
A CORNWALL lawyer implicated in one of Canada’s most notorious investigations into sexual abuse must stand trial again on charges he molested boys, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled yesterday. During a rarely granted oral hearing, the high court “dismissed from the bench” Jacques Leduc’s application to appeal an Ontario court ruling last summer that overturned a third court’s decision to stay the charges against him and award him nearly $300,000 in damages.
Leduc, the former legal counsel for the Archdiocese of Alexandria-Cornwall, was charged in 1998 with eight counts of sexual exploitation involving three teenage boys after Project Truth, a massive
OPP probe into sex allegations, named him and several prominent Cornwall-area individuals as suspects.
The case was tossed out in March 2001 after defence lawyers convinced Superior Court Justice James Chadwick that the Crown had deliberately withheld evidence.
Ontario’s Court of Appeal overturned that ruling in July, calling the finding “entirely unsupported by the record” and “so clearly wrong that it does amount to an injustice.”
In its 37-page unanimous decision, the court found that Crown prosecutor Shelley Hallett had made an “honest mistake” when she failed to disclose the fact that a former Cornwall cop, eager to expose a pedophile ring in the area, had been in contact with one of Leduc’s alleged victims.
Members of Leduc’s defence team, including prominent criminal lawyer Marlys Edwardh, were unavailable for comment but yesterday’s development was immediately hailed by victims rights advocates as “wonderful, phenomenal” news.
“This is truly significant and, I hope, the turning of a big corner,” said David Gagnon, national co-ordinator of the Ottawa-based Canadian Healing Circle and himself a victim of sexual abuse.
“I really hope that this will be a watershed. I’ve said for two years now that I believe Cornwall could become the Boston (Catholic Church abuse scandal) of Canada.”
Brendan Crawley, a spokesman for the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, confirmed yesterday that “the Crown plans to proceed with a new trial as ordered by the Court of Appeal.”
Project Truth resulted in 114 charges against 15 high-profile men, including three Catholic priests, a doctor and a lawyer. Only one person, unconnected to the alleged sex ring, was ultimately convicted of sexual offences.
Rules of disclosure can be a trial
A Crown prosecutor who became a legal pariah is inches away from
exoneration, writes KIRK MAKIN
Toronot Globe and Mail
By KIRK MAKIN
UPDATED AT 3:13 PM EST Monday, Oct. 13, 2003
As a rule, Crown prosecutors are associated with wrongful convictions only when they contribute to one. Shelly Hallett is an exception.
Condemned by a judge for one of the worst offences a prosecutor can commit — deliberately concealing information from a defendant — the senior Ontario prosecutor became an overnight pariah in 2001.
She is still not completely out of the woods, but Ms. Hallett’s exoneration is sufficiently close to warrant some reflections on her experience. The case offers not just an excellent insight into the
precarious position trial prosecutors can be thrust into, but it serves as a warning to those who would rush to judgment.
The tale begins in 1998, when Ms. Hallett was assigned to prosecute Jacques Leduc in connection with a squalid sex ring whose purported existence had convulsed the Eastern Ontario city of Cornwall.
It was an unpleasant job. Ms. Hallett lived out of a suitcase for lengthy periods, dealing with unfamiliar police officers who had carried out a controversial investigation known as Project Truth.
At the heart of it was a stranger-than-fiction figure — Cornwall Police Constable Perry Dunlop — who made it a personal crusade to ferret out alleged abuse victims, offer them succour and vouch for
their veracity. His obsessive meddling left behind a morass of polluted evidence.
Early in Mr. Leduc’s trial, the mother of a complainant testified that Mr. Dunlop had contacted her twice to inquire after her son and deliver encouraging words. Ears at the defence table perked up.
It appeared that while vetting files for purposes of disclosure, Ms. Hallett had missed — or deliberately withheld — three brief references to Mr. Dunlop’s phone calls. One was in his own will-say statement, another was in his notebook, the third was in an OPP officer’s notebook. In theory, the references might have given the defence a foothold to argue that the complainants had been improperly influenced by Mr. Dunlop.
Citing police as the culprits, the defence sought a stay based on willful non-disclosure. Near the end of the application, it suddenly switched targets to Ms. Hallett.
Testimony from police investigators neatly hung her out to dry.
On March 1, 2001, Mr. Justice James Chadwick of the Superior Court ruled that Ms. Hallett had deceived the defence to prevent the spectre of Perry Dunlop from entering her case. He granted a stay.
In a major case, disclosure can be a morass. Prosecutors live in fear that an innocent oversight could leave their career in ruins.
To say Ms. Hallett felt cheated, humiliated and embittered by Judge Chadwick’s ruling would understate reality. True, she didn’t face a life of prison food and endless pleas for mercy to the Justice
Department. But she was blasted straight into professional purgatory. Her integrity was compromised. Professional relationships were strained. The Law Society of Upper Canada launched an investigation into her behaviour.
Ms. Hallett withdrew into the more insular world of appellate law.
Her bosses at the Ministry of the Attorney-General didn’t exactly abandon her. However, nor did they bend over backward to throw resources into an appeal. Even more chilling, her ministry launched
an independent police investigation into her conduct.
Against this backdrop, a strikingly similar case was unfolding, also in Eastern Ontario. Mr. Justice Paul Cosgrove of the Superior Court had stayed murder charges against Yvonne Elliott, citing scores of constitutional breaches by police and individual Crown officials reaching up to the highest levels.
Painstakingly prepared and litigated by a virtual Who’s Who of senior prosecutors and top-flight contract counsel, the Elliott appeal had been given Cadillac treatment.
Many trial prosecutors took careful note of the juxtaposition.
As it was, they had been nervous since a Supreme Court ruling last year in a case known as Krieger, which opened them to investigation and discipline by law societies.
The Hallett affair proved the need for strict internal protocols as to how allegations of Crown misconduct are treated in the post-Krieger era. It can no longer suffice for senior bureaucrats to
issue ad hoc decisions, on a case-by-case basis, when the very future of a prosecutor is at stake.
“Perhaps the most important issue raised by Leduc is the lack of a transparent protocol within the ministry,” says William Lightfoot, president of the Ontario Crown Attorneys Association.
“All an assistant Crown attorney really has is their professional integrity. I can’t think of a more important issue.”
Several weeks ago, Ontario Court of Appeal judges John Laskin, Kathryn Feldman and Eileen Gillese issued their ruling in the Leduc appeal. Judge Laskin said he could overturn the Leduc findings only if Judge Chadwick’s reasoning was “tainted by palpable and overriding error.” It was that, and some.
“His finding is entirely unsupported by the record, does not take into account several exculpatory considerations, and flies in the face of the innocent explanation given by Ms. Hallett — an
explanation the application judge had no reason to reject,” Judge Laskin said coldly.
He found it perfectly understandable that Ms. Hallett could have missed — or failed to appreciate — the three brief references to Mr. Dunlop among the overwhelming pile of documentation that had
Moreover, Judge Chadwick had misinterpreted and misapprehended the evidence, Judge Laskin said. Far from there being any evidence of willful non-disclosure, he said, it had all pointed straight in the
direction of innocence.
The appeal judges reversed the stay order, saying it was “so clearly wrong that it does amount to an injustice.”
Not surprisingly, Ms. Hallett has no interest in being interviewed. She feels little warmth toward the press and besides, Mr. Leduc is seeking leave to appeal several aspects of the ruling to the Supreme
Court of Canada.
Whenever wrongful convictions are exposed and corrected, one invariably hears a pat phrase: The system worked. And it certainly has worked in the Hallett case. Counsel on both sides made precisely the arguments they ought to have made, and a panel of judges rectified a miscarriage. All’s well that ends well.
Except for two things. First, Ms. Hallett will be changed forever by her two years in professional hell. Second, she shares the fate of all wrongly accused or convicted individuals — there will always be muttered doubts about her true innocence.
For obvious reasons, exoneration is a word we reserve for criminal convictions. Perhaps, it shouldn’t be such an exclusive club.
Defendants are not the only ones who can be chewed up by the justice system.