Evidence inadmissible in impaired driving trial for Riders QB Dolegala
What might have been key evidence against Jake Dolegala in the impaired driving trial of the Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback was instead deemed inadmissible as the proceedings came to a close.
The turn of events came late in the trial, as the Crown sought to tender into evidence documents produced when the football player provided breath samples at the White Butte RCMP detachment on Sept. 17, 2022.
When the trial began Thursday morning in Regina provincial court, the 26-year-old American faced charges of impaired operation of a conveyance and operation of a conveyance over .08.
By the end of the day, however, Dolegala's lawyer Matt Schmeling had successfully noted various legal issues surrounding the paperwork associated with the breath samples, and how such paperwork must be completed and presented in order for it to be admissible. The Crown had not met those standards, court heard.
Prosecutor Loren Klein applied to adjourn the trial so the Crown could attempt to line up another witness. Schmeling argued the Crown had plenty of time to get its case in order and that the trial has taken Dolegala away from Roughriders training camp in Saskatoon, where “he's literally fighting for his career.”
Judge Noah Evanchuk declined the prosecutor's request while noting that the decision was not to suggest Klein was personally responsible for the situation.
“The Crown, as an institution, ought to have known the potential frailties and pitfalls of their case,” Evanchuk said.
Klein then directed a stay of proceedings on the charge of operation of a conveyance over .08, leaving him to argue only the charge of impaired operation of a conveyance.
Dolegala allegedly had some difficulty ensuring he'd paid for fuel at a Co-op gas station in Emerald Park that day. Video evidence showed him interacting with the gas pump multiple times.
“It's one thing to have some difficulty to pay for gas, it's another thing having to return to a gas pump on four separate occasions to fiddle with it to make efforts toward paying for fuel that's been pumped,” Klein argued.
Schmeling argued that not much can be drawn from his American client's apparent confusion, and noted that one of the Crown witnesses who called police on Dolegala had agreed that operating a gas pump in a different country can be confusing.
Klein argued that witness, Mark Glabus, was quick to form an opinion that Dolegala shouldn't be driving. Schmeling countered by noting the witness had “walked back” on his assertion that on an impairment scale of one to 10, Dolegala was a six. Further, the testimony from Glabus that Dolegala's truck had a Texas licence plate was countered by police evidence that it was, in fact, a New York state plate — an example of the “frailty” of evidence given by lay witnesses, Schmeling said.
Klein argued that Dolegala appeared unsteady in video footage, and appeared to be having difficulty with his balance. Schmeling pointed out that the Crown witness who gave the video to police had, under cross-examination, agreed it was “jittery” and seemed to also show the gas pump attendant who helped Dolegala was also moving back and forth at times.
Klein asked the court to take into consideration the entire context: Dolegala's mannerisms, balance, the nature of his interactions with patrons, his apparent inability to use the gas pump, and witness evidence.
Evanchuk is expected to deliver his decision later this month.