HMC: Mi’kmaq Warrior bail hearings risks turning into week-long event

SOURCE: http://halifax.mediacoop.ca/story/mikmaq-warrior-bail-hearings-risks-turning-week-lo/19421

Zero down, six to go as first day draws to a close

by Miles Howe

Defence lawyer Gilles Lemieux speaks to a reporter after today's non-bail hearing. [Photo: Miles Howe]
Defence lawyer Gilles Lemieux speaks to a reporter after today’s non-bail hearing. [Photo: Miles Howe]

Moncton, New Brunswick – The Moncton courthouse was again abuzz today as supporters of the six remaining incarcerated members of the Mi’kmaq Warriors Society awaited their bail hearings. Originally, the court was supposed to process the hearings of Coady Stevens, Dave Mazerolle and Jason “Okay” Augustine. However, due to the Crown’s attempts to pile on extra charges on all three men, not even Coady Stevens’ bail hearing was completed.

The defence team of Gilles Lemieux and Alison Menard have requested a press ban on the evidence presented in court today, so details of the charges will have to wait, potentially for the actual trial (if there is one) or beyond. We can say that Stevens is up on six charges, however, and they are as follows: Two counts of threats, two counts of obstruction of justice, one summary assault and one count of unlawful confinement.

The unlawful confinement would be the ‘big one’, as the Crown appears to want to proceed on it as an indictable offence, which carries a maximum sentence of not over ten years. Surprisingly, the unlawful confinement is related to incidents that occurred on or around the 16th of October, not the 17th when the RCMP viciously raided the Warrior encampment.

On this we can say no more.

The other interesting aspect of these bail hearings is that the Crown is using all three possible grounds in order to justify detaining all six accused prior to sentencing.

Primary grounds refers to the possibility that an accused will attend court.

Secondary grounds refers to the protection or safety of the public.

The rarely used third grounds refers to maintaining confidence in the administration of justice. Defence lawyer Menard notes that this third grounds is most commonly reserved for crimes that “strike at the public’s conscience.”

In any case, Menard was understandably surprised at the fact that on a day when the court was supposed to deal with three bail hearings, not even one was completed.

“Our system is based upon not punishing people prior to trial,” says Menard. “If you believe in that system, if you believe in the presumption of innocence and the importance of our Charter values, [then] we don’t punish people pre-trial.”

Menard also was quick to point out that while the Crown is at an advantage because it can create a narrative surrounding the events of an alleged crime (through press conferences where the RCMP put on display weapons and ammunition allegedly seized from their raid, for example), the public should maintain mental vigilance when analyzing such information through media who weren’t at the scene of the arrests and often blindly re-hash police press releases.

“The narrative for the RCMP and the government is out there in the media,” says Menard. “They can give interviews and do press releases. [So] the average person probably has a settled view of what happened [in the RCMP’s raid on October 17th]. That’s not necessarily an accurate view.”

Bail hearings for the six incarcerated Mi’kmaq Warriors will most likely continue all week at the Moncton courthouse.

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