It's been 6 years since this cop filed a suit over 'malicious' prosecution. It's still proceeding — slowly

Chris Messer alleges the Crown acted 'maliciously, for reasons other than the pursuit of justice, namely, to destroy Messer's career and reputation.' (CBC - image credit)
Chris Messer alleges the Crown acted 'maliciously, for reasons other than the pursuit of justice, namely, to destroy Messer's career and reputation.' (CBC - image credit)

More than six years after Saint John police officer Chris Messer filed a lawsuit against those involved a prosecution that ultimately fell flat, the suit is still slowly making its way through the court system.

This week, two days have been set aside to address a motion for summary judgment, which is a request to have the case decided without a trial.

On Wednesday, Messer's Halifax-area lawyer, Barry Mason, cross-examined the lead investigator in the case, Deputy Chief Brian Cummings of the Miramichi Police Force. The cross-examination is being done in advance of the actual hearing for the motion.

Under questioning from Mason, Cummings said he was asked by Saint John police to investigate allegations of threats and assault against Messer that were related to a break-in at his home in 2010.

One of two men questioned by police about the break-in alleged he was threatened by Messer. The other man claimed to have been assaulted.

In 2012, Messer was convicted of threatening conduct and assault, and spent six days in jail before being released pending appeal. He was later cleared of the threatening conduct charge and a new trial was ordered on the assault charge.

CBC
CBC

In January 2015, Justice Judy Clendening stayed the new prosecution after the Crown failed to produce a police file as ordered by the court.

Messer returned to the Saint John Police Force not long after.

In 2016, Messer filed a lawsuit against the Office of the Attorney General, the City of Miramichi, and Cummings.

In his statement of claim, Messer alleges the investigation by Cummings was "performed improperly and negligently."

He also alleges the Crown did not have "reasonable and probable grounds" for believing he had committed a criminal offence when it launched the prosecution, and that the Crown acted "maliciously, for reasons other than the pursuit of justice, namely, to destroy Messer's career and reputation."

None of the allegations has been proven in court.

Messer is seeking general, special, aggravated and punitive damages along with interest and costs, although the file does not include the amount sought.

Case started with a break-in

On Wednesday, Mason pressed Cummings about details contained in his affidavit and about his investigation, including who he did and did not interview.

Cummings insisted he did a thorough investigation and said he believes as strongly now as he did in his 2017 affidavit that Messer assaulted Randy King.

According to the file and Cummings' testimony, Brett McAdam was driving a vehicle that matched the description of one seen in the area of Messer's home at the time of the break-in.

Several officers, including Messer, were involved in a traffic stop in the parking lot of the east side Canadian Tire on Sept. 7, 2010. Messer ended up taking McAdam behind the store without any other officers present. That is when McAdam alleges the threats were made.

McAdam was not arrested and he continued with his shopping errand at Canadian Tire, but eventually filed a complaint with the Saint John Police Force.

According to Cummings, the entire interaction lasted 61 minutes.

Then, on Sept. 22, 2010, Randy King was arrested on an outstanding warrant and Messer was the officer who transported him to the police station, where McAdam alleged he was assaulted by Messer in the parking garage.

Cummings said Messer believed King was involved in the break-in at his home.

The pre-trial hearing will continue Thursday morning before the case progresses to a hearing for the motion for summary judgment.