As Alberta Superior Court overturns its vaccine requirement for future jurors this week, one of the defendants in the Kutsis border blockade says he still fears “bias” as judges still have the discretion to require a fully vaccinated jury.
Joan Persson, 62, is accused of dangerously operating a car, possessing a weapon and abusing more than $ 5,000.
He appeared in a Letbridge court on Monday and told the judge he would choose to be tried by “a judge of my age, a jury.”
The person who introduces himself then expressed concern about the composition of his jury.
“This protest, which took place, was against vaccination mandates,” he told state court judge Silvia Oishi. “It would be biased for me to insist on a vaccinated jury.”
Judges will still have discretion
On Monday, Daryl Ruther, the court’s executive legal adviser, told CBC News that announcements of changes to the jury election process were inevitable.
As of Thursday, the court is removing the requirement for potential jurors to present their QR codes և ID during the selection process.
The judges, however, will still have the discretion to request a jury consisting only of vaccinated people for security reasons, Ruther said.
The composition of the jury is very important for the fairness of the trial, says Defender G. Volch, who presided over the jury trial during the epidemic.
“We assume that the jurors can act impartially”
Walch says he can assess Persson’s concerns; he says it is a unique situation where “public health concerns run counter to the perception of having a truly impartial jury.”
“The other side of the coin is that we assume that jurors can act impartially,” Volch said.
“We assume that the jurors can follow the instructions, that the judge in that situation will instruct the jurors to set aside their personal convictions and approach the accused with an open mind.”
One way to address a person’s concerns may be to file a motion to question potential jurors during the selection process to confirm that they do not have convictions that may be biased in their discussions.
The 13-year-old was charged after a search of the RCMP trailers on February 14, when officers confiscated pistols, body armor, a large quantity of ammunition and large-caliber firearms.
The next round of blockades by COVID-19 people crossing the border again for more than two weeks, but ended the day after the arrests.
Conducted in a “public house”
The man told Oishi that he had “encountered a crime in a public house” because of the media coverage of the case and the arrests.
Several media outlets have teamed up to apply for ITO access (for information), which are police-prepared applications to secure search warrants.
They contain preliminary evidence, information gathered by the police, which is used to substantiate search warrants.
The person stated that he would oppose the release of the ITOs, which are connected with the searches in his house: nearby.
“I would like the media ban to continue,” he said.
The media application is expected to be heard next month.
Accused of violating the RCMP blockade
The man is accused of breaking the RCMP blockade on Alta Milk River on February 1 by driving incorrectly on the highway before colliding head-on with another vehicle.
His other allegations relate to alleged activities in the border blockade.
Many of the 14 defendants are accused of embezzling more than $ 5,000 in property and possessing weapons.
The four are charged with conspiracy to commit murder for allegedly killing RCMP officers.
Chris Carbert, Christopher Lisak, Anthony Olienick and Jerry Morin, all accused of conspiracy to commit murder, remain in custody.
They will be tried together, but the day of the trial has not been appointed yet.
Carbert և Lisak both have ties to the white supremacist group.
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