Nov 10, 2016

Criminal trials for Canadian polygamists rescheduled

Vancouver Sun

November 9, 2016


The trial of three residents from Bountiful, B.C. charged with trafficking their daughters into polygamous marriages has been postponed to Nov. 22.

The trial in B.C. Supreme Court in Cranbrook of James Marion Oler, Brandon James Blackmore and Emily Ruth Gail Crossfield (known as Gail Blackmore) is now also scheduled for only 14 days instead of 25.

All three are members or former members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They are charged with unlawful removal of a child for illegal purposes under Section 273.3 of the Criminal Code. 

The information sworn by Sgt. Terry Jacklin on Aug. 13, 2014 for the Blackmores states: “On or about the 27th day of February, 2004, in or near Creston in the province of British Columbia, with the intention of facilitating an act outside of Canada that would be an offence in Canada under Section 151 or 152 of the Criminal Code, in respect of M.M.B, a person under the age of 16 years who was ordinarily resident in Canada did engage in activity for the purpose of removing M.M.B from Canada, contrary to Section 273.3(2) of the Criminal Code.”

For Oler, a former FLDS bishop, the wording is the same, but the date was different — June 24, 2004 — and the child’s initials are C.E.O.

The reason for the delay in the trial’s start is that the prosecutor, Peter Wilson, has asked Judge Paul Pearlman to appoint an amicus, a kind of advocate. One reason for having an amicus is that Gail Blackmore and Oler are representing themselves. Brandon Blackmore has hired Victoria lawyer John Gustafson.

The role of an amicus, however, is not to represent the defendants. It is to assist the court with regard to legal precedent and provide a counterweight to the prosecutor on issues of law.

Vancouver lawyer Joe Doyle was the amicus for the voir dire — the closed session hearing held last week to hear pre-trial applications.

Following the voir dire, Wilson asked that Doyle continue as amicus at trial. Exactly what role Doyle will play isn’t clear since the judge has yet to confirm the wording of his appointment. But because Doyle isn’t available next week when the trial was initially scheduled to start, the proceedings have been delayed. 

Next Tuesday, however, Pearlman is scheduled to release his decision on the issues raised at the close session.

When the three parents were charged in 2014, Oler was also charged with one count of polygamy, along with another former bishop, Winston Blackmore.

Winston Blackmore’s trial was initially set for April 10, 2017 in B.C. Supreme Court in Cranbrook. But those proceedings, which will be heard by Justice Mark McEwan, are also being rescheduled.


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