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

Committee presses IH on lab issues in Trail

Seniors Advisory Committee sent a letter to Interior Health last month

AM Ford rallies behind Cuban baseball team

Ashman leads drive to donate baseball gear for Cuban teams

Union de Reyes and Trail AM Ford Orioles entertain full house

Union de Reyes, Cuba impressive in series sweep of Trail AM Ford Orioles

First Nations included in latest Columbia River Treaty talks

Seventh round of negotiations between Canada and U.S. wrap up in Washington D.C.

Close to 1000 people expected to hear international evangelist Angus Buchan this weekend

The Mighty Men’s Conference is taking place in Castlegar June 28-30.

Astronaut David Saint-Jacques returns to Earth, sets Canadian space record

Native of Saint-Lambert, Que., set a record for longest single spaceflight by a Canadian at 204 days

Thieves steal two $40K chairs featuring gold serpents from Vancouver furniture store

Chairs believed to be the only two of its kind in Canada, police said

Poll: Rising gas prices force B.C. residents rethink summer road trips

63 per cent of respondents reported gas prices are impacting their day-to-day finances

PHOTO: Moose cow and calf relax in Williams Lake flower garden

The homeowners got a surprise when they checked their most recent surveillance footage

Two in hospital after plane crashes in Okanagan Lake

RCMP say wheels left down caused landing plane to overturn on lake

The world’s Indigenous speakers gather in B.C.’s capital to revitalize languages

Organizers estimate about 1,000 delegates from 20 countries will be at the conference

Companies need clearer rules on workplace relationships, study suggests

One-third of Canadians have been in love at work, and half say no policy on the matter exists

‘Text neck’ causing bone spurs to grow from millennials’ skulls, researchers say

Technology use from early childhood causing abnormal bone growths in 41 per cent of young adults

B.C. teen killed by fallen tree on field trip remembered as hero

13-year-old Tai Caverhill was the first to spot the tree falling and warned his friends

Most Read