Winston Blackmore, a polygamous leader associated with Bountiful, near Creston, was found guilty of practicing polygamy in Cranbrook Supreme Court on Monday, July 24, 2017. (Trevor Crawley photo)

Blackmore set to launch charter challenge

Bountiful polygamist leader back in Cranbrook Supreme Court next week.

The ongoing legal battle of a fundamentalist polygamist leader is heading back to Cranbrook Supreme Court next week.

Winston Blackmore, through his lawyer Blair Suffredine, will launch a constitutional challenge in front Justice Sheri Donegan on Tuesday, arguing that his charter rights were violated when he was charged with polygamy.

This is the first case of polygamy that’s ever been criminally prosecuted in the 127-year history of the law.

READ: Blackmore found guilty of polygamy in landmark trial

James Marion Oler, a co-accused who was also charged with the same offence alongside Blackmore, indicated during his last appearance that he will not be making any similar submissions.

Both were found guilty of practicing polygamy in Bountiful, a small community south of Creston that is associated with the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS). Justice Donegan delivered her ruling in July, however, a conviction won’t be formally recorded until the constitutional challenge issue is addressed.

Lawyers, including Special Prosecutor Peter Wilson, along with Joe Doyle, a friend of the court who is present to ensure a fair trial for Oler, reconvened in Cranbrook earlier in November. That hearing was delayed after Suffredine did not file court documents by mutually agreed-upon deadlines.

Leading up to, and during the start of the polygamy trial, Suffredine had indicated he would not be filing a charter challenge, however, when the Crown closed its case, he announced his intent to file a notice of application.

The eight-day trial wrapped up in May after hearing evidence that included testimony from Blackmore’s first wife, Jane Blackmore, along with experts on mainstream Mormon church doctrine and history. RCMP investigators also testified while marriage and personal records seized in Texas in 2008 during a raid on an FLDS compound were also submitted as evidence

The polygamy charges were announced in 2014 after the BC government appointed Wilson as the special prosecutor in 2012.

His appointment followed the appointment of a string of special prosecutors who declined to approve polygamy charges against Blackmore, citing fears that a criminal prosecution would fail based on a constitutional charter defence.

That process resulted in a constitutional reference case that tested the constitutional valid of Section 293 (polygamy) in the Criminal Code of Canada. That ruling, delivered in 2011 by Justice Robert Bauman in BC Supreme Court, concluded that charging a person with polygamy does not violate their religious freedom rights.

Just Posted

Kootenay region posts 10-per-cent return rate on electoral reform ballots

As of Nov. 13, only 5.3 per cent of ballots had been returned province-wide

Castlegar Remembers

Hundreds gathered at Kinsmen Park on Sunday to mark the Centenary of the end of WW1

B.C. Legions in need of young members to continue aiding veterans into the future

Lest we forget what thousands of men and women did to fight for Canada’s freedoms – but without new membership, many Legion chapters face dwindling numbers

Nine-vehicle pileup closes Highway 3 near Castlegar

Two separate incidents on slushy highway; reports of injuries

UPDATE: Police seek witnesses in Castlegar road rampage

Lake Country man faces 13 charges, including robbery, dangerous driving, flight from police, assault with a weapon, theft, and drug charges.

VIDEO: Amazon to split second HQ between New York, Virginia

Official decision expected later Tuesday to end competition between North American cities to win bid and its promise of 50,000 jobs

Disabled boy has ‘forgiven’ bullies who walked on him in stream, mom says

A Cape Breton teen who has cerebral palsy was told to lie in a stream as other kids walked over him

Letters shed light on state of mind of B.C. mom accused of daughter’s murder

Trial of South Surrey mother Lisa Batstone begins in BC Supreme Court

Vancouver man must pay $22,000 after breaking strata rules

Peter Gordon took his fight over his rented condo to the civil resolution tribunal, but lost

B.C. cheese linked to 5 E. coli cases

People are asked to throw out or return ‘Qualicum Spice’ cheese

Canada Post no longer guarantees delivery times amid more rotating strikes

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers closed two major processing centres in Ontario and B.C.

B.C. city councillor resigns as AutismBC director amid SOGI controversy

AutismBC president Gary Robins says Laurie Guerra’s resignation is effective Nov. 12

McGill students vote overwhelmingly to change Redmen team nickname

Student union held a referendum after a campaign by Indigenous students

B.C. university pride group replaces white supremacy posters

Around 50 people walked through downtown Victoria to share posters of love

Most Read