Pankiw trial begins in Saskatoon

By Bre McAdam
March 4, 2013 - 5:22pm

The question of whether or not relatively new breath sample equipment was properly used to test a former Saskatoon politician was argued in a separate hearing during his impaired driving trial in Saskatoon Provincial Court on Monday.

The trial for Jim Pankiw, who was charged on July 26, 2011, is expected to take two days. Crown prosecutor Bryce Pashovitz plans to call two civilians and three police officers as witnesses, while defense lawyer Mark Brayford told the court he may call between one or two witnesses.

But before the trial can formally get underway a separate hearing, or voir dire, took place to decide whether certain evidence should be disclosed. One of the disclosure issues involves the breath sample equipment used on Pankiw.

Constable Kyle Gilbertson, the qualified breath sample technician who tested Pankiw, testified Monday that he took two tests; one which read 0.15 milligrams of alcohol per milliliters of blood, the other 0.14 milligrams. Const. Gilbertson said he did not observe any physical signs of impairment when he dealt with Pankiw, except that his eyes were red.

But Brayford said according to his client, those results were “impossible” based on what Pankiw said he drank.

Brayford argued the check sheet wasn't properly filled out, and questions whether the equipment was maintained. He is requesting the disclosure of several documents, including quality assurance logs and alcohol standard change logs for both the breath sample equipment as well as the roadside testing device.

The other issue has to do with the involvement of an RCMP officer, even though the charge was laid by a Saskatoon police officer. It was not discussed during Monday’s hearing.

No details about what happened the day Pankiw was charged have come out in court. Final submissions on the breath sample disclosure issue will be made Tuesday morning.

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