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

B.C. declares state of emergency as more than 560 wildfires rage

This is only the fourth state of emergency ever issued during a fire season

UPDATE: Search for missing Cranbrook woman enters third day

The search for a Cranbrook woman missing in the Jumbo Pass area is entering its third day.

Search for missing Cranbrook woman ongoing

Louise Baxter missing in Jumbo Pass area since Sunday

Missing person in Jumbo Pass is woman from Cranbrook

Multiple search and rescue organizations from around the region are looking for missing hiker

Average Canadian family spends 43% of income on taxes: study

Fraser Institute’s consumer report shows taxes accounting for larger chunk of income each year

Wartime Wednesdays

Invermere’s Elinor Florence investigates stories from our wartime past

Regional climate adaptation agriculture testing to expand in B.C.

Ottawa funds farm projects to conserve water, remove invasive species

VIDEO: B.C. brother-and-sister RCMP officers Amazing Race Canada Heroes Edition

Courtney and Taylor Callens have become the team to beat

‘Can’t erase history’ by tearing down statues, Minister says

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna spoke on the contentious removal of John A. Macdonald

Man seriously injured in Lower Mainland home explosion

Police are trying to figure out what led to a homemade explosive detonating in a Coquitlam home

Canadian soccer captain Christine Sinclair continues to lead fight against MS

Burgers to Beat MS has raised more than $11 million since its inception in 2009

VIDEO: Post-surgery monologue comedy gold

If you’ve ever had surgery with anaesthetic you know the coming out of it process can be a treat.

LETTERS: Doctors speak out on surgical wait times for B.C. patients

‘Governments know they will lose private clinic lawsuit’

Most Read