This private prosecution is a new thing to me.
I did note this part of the article:
“Her attempts to reopen the case through the Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC), a quasi-judicial civilian oversight body, and the Federal Court failed.”
This part baffles me some. The federal court refused to delve into this, but now a provincial court is? Or am I getting this wrong.
I’m drawing inferences here, but Federal Court would not have played any prosecutorial role in this. I suspect she complained to the MPCC, they didn’t grant her the remedy sought, and she then sought judicial review in federal court- but that proceeding would not have had the ability to order the commencement of a criminal prosecution.
beat me to it.
Private prosecutions are rare to see, but they happen. Normally, for someone to be criminally charged, a peace officer goes before a Justice of the Peace and swears an ‘information’ alleging that the named person committed a specified offense. If the JP signs it - which they usually do, it’s not a super high threshold - it gets assigned to a crown prosecutor. In some cases (especially in BC) crown will have already been involved in approving the charge up front.
In a private prosecution, any person can go to a courthouse, appear before a Justice of the Peace, and swear an information alleging an offence. There are a step or two added wherein the JP does an initial in camera hearing to determine if there’s any substance the the matter - usually the process is used by looks who read about it online and try to bring bullshit, so there needs to be some control measure. This hearing, the ‘pre-enquete’ happens without notifying the accused and is not open to the public, so it can’t be effectively weaponized for embarrassment or harassment.
If, at the pre-enquete, it appears that there are grounds to proceed, then the JP can charge the accused and issue a summons or warrant to bring them to court, to be prosecuted by crown.
At pretty much every stage of this, crown prosecution can say “we’re not moving forward with this” and shut the whole thing down.
It’s a mechanism that offers the ability to get a criminal allegation before the courts should police. In practice, you’re usually going to see… odd and interesting people attempting to utilize this process. And not usually succesfully. In this particular case, it appears that the process might be serving its intended purpose.