Procedure for Review of a Judicial Authorization

From Criminal Law Notebook

General Principles

See also: Voir Dire#Challenging Warrant Validity and Judicial Authorization Standard of Review

When an accused person seeks to challenge an ITO supporting a warrant by cross-examination of the informant the procedure should go as follows:[1]

  1. The trial judge should determine whether a voir dire is necessary and, if so, whether the calling of evidence should be permitted;
  2. If the judge accedes to the request to hold a voir dire and the accused wishes to cross-examine the informant, then the accused must obtain leave of the judge to do so. If the judge grants leave, then he or she can limit the scope of the cross-examination;
  3. Cross-examination should proceed to the extent permitted by the order granting leave;
  4. Re-examination, if any, should follow the cross-examination; and
  5. The trial judge should determine whether the record as amplified on the review could support the issuance of the warrant.
  1. R v Wilson, 2011 BCCA 252 (CanLII), 272 CCC (3d) 269, per Frankel JA (3:0), at paras 62 to 67, 69

Threshold Test to Challenge a Warrant

There is no open right to challenge a search warrant. The accused must apply for the right to have a voir dire by way of a hearing, sometimes called a "Vukelich hearing."[1] The determination of whether to permit the accused to challenge the warrant can be made on the basis of submissions of counsel.[2] Where the threshold has been passed, it does not necessarily follow that witnesses be called. The court may allow only arguments based on the face of the warrant. [3]

A hearing to challenge a warrant is often referred to as a "Garofoli hearing."[4]

  1. R v Vukelich, 1996 CanLII 1005 (BCCA), 108 CCC (3d) 195, per McEachern JA
  2. Vukelich, ibid., at paras 17, 26
    R v Wilson, 2011 BCCA 252 (CanLII), 272 CCC (3d) 269, per Finkel JA, at para 62
  3. Wilson, supra, at paras 62, 63
  4. R v Fearon, 2020 ONCJ 25 (CanLII), per Band J, at para 10 ("A Garofoli hearing is a pre-trial, threshold evidentiary hearing challenging the validity of an evidence-gathering tool. It is not a trial.")