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Crown requests new trial for S-CAP 11

By: Heidi Ulrichsen - Sudbury Northern Life

 | May 28, 2014 - 4:11 PM |
Members of the S-CAP 11 and their supporters celebrate Nov. 12, 2013 after charges against all of the group's members are dropped. The Crown has appealed the decision, and is requesting a new trial. File photo.

Members of the S-CAP 11 and their supporters celebrate Nov. 12, 2013 after charges against all of the group's members are dropped. The Crown has appealed the decision, and is requesting a new trial. File photo.

Judge to make decision on matter June 26

Eleven local anti-poverty activists charged with trespassing in 2012 will find out June 26 whether the Crown's appeal of a justice of the peace's decision to drop those charges has been granted.

The incident which sparked the arrests was a Nov. 9, 2012 sit-in at Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci's office by members of the Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty (S-CAP).

The group was attempting to draw attention to cuts to a social assistance program called the Community Maintenance and Startup Fund.

A trial was held last fall, but charges against the defendants, who dubbed themselves the S-CAP 11, were dropped by Justice of the Peace Diane Lafleur for a number of technical reasons.

In the case of two of the defendants — Robert Dey and Martin Boucher — charges were dropped because Assistant Crown Attorney Peter Willis failed to call a witness that could testify about their activities.

Willis has asked Lafleur to adjourn the trial until he could call this witness, but she denied the request.

It was because witnesses at the trial hadn't identified the jurisdiction in which the incident occurred that charges were dropped against the remaining defendants — Clarissa Lassaline, Phillip Marsh, Gary Kinsman, Anna Harbulik, Brendan Lehman, Thomas Sutton, Pam Charron, Danielle Beaulieu and David Dubois.

Assistant Crown Attorney Martin Tooke, who has since taken over the case from Willis, told Justice Martin Lambert May 27 that Lafleur made “errors in law” in dropping the charges, and asked for a new trial.

He argued Lafleur should have granted the adjournment requested by Willis to allow time to find the witness required to testify regarding Dey and Boucher's actions.
As well, even though none of the witnesses specifically said the incident happened in Sudbury, it should have been implied by the fact it happened at Bartolucci's office, Tooke said.

But that argument doesn't cut it for defence attorney Don Kuyek, who said you can't just imply certain things — including jurisdiction — in a formal court setting.

“Some of the formalities that you usually find in a presentation of a Crown's case just didn't come out, so (Lafleur) dismissed it,” he said.

Kuyek also reminded Lambert that if a new trial is granted, it will likely take place at least two years after the original offence was committed.

The fact that the matter hasn't yet been finalized is becoming onerous for his clients, some of whom have now moved away from Sudbury, he said.

Trespassing is also a relatively minor charge that usually brings a fine of about $100, Kuyek said. S-CAP had attempted to divert the matter from the courts through a $500 donation to charity, but the Crown refused, he said.

The appeal request — as well as the police investigation and the original trial — are an “absolute waste of resources,” Lassaline said.

“One of the things that really imprints itself on us is how there's such a concerted effort to actually suppress any type of concern from people living in poverty,” she said.

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Heidi Ulrichsen

Heidi Ulrichsen

Staff Writer


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