Feb 21/97: Bruce Clark May Not Appear as Counsel



- posted to sovernet-l by Settlers In Support of Indigenous Sovereignty

Friday, February 21, 1997 0900 hr. PST

CBC radio news reported on a 0730 PST province wide broadcast, that native rights lawyer Dr. Bruce Clark may not appear for the Gustafsen Lake defence. According to the report, Clark's "own legal problems" may "prevent him from appearing."

The report further said that Clark will be sentenced this afternoon, after being found guilty of contempt of Court yesterday by Judge Nicholas Friesen. Clark will also be tried today, possibly by a different Judge, for "resisting arrest" and "assaulting an officer" in 100 Mile House Provincial Court.

The charges were laid shortly after the Gustafsen Lake standoff ended in September 1995 when Dr.Clark was attempting to present his clients' jurisdictional arguments. Clark was denied entry to the locked courtroom and access to his recently arrested clients. He was subsequently assaulted at the counsel table by RCMP.

Clark was lured back to BC by officials in the NDP Attorney General's Ministry with whom he had reached a 'protocol' for dealing with the charges that would have enabled him to appear for the defence in the Gustafsen Lake trial now proceeding in Surrey.

BC authorities are threatened by the revelations emerging from the trial of government fraud, misinformation and smear campaigns, and the enormous RCMP/military operation during which massive firepower was used against the 18 defendants. Government attempts to foil the defence include the cutting off of legal aid funds, unsuccessful attempts to have the Ontario authorities disbar him, and refusing to issue the customary "appearance permit" granted to out of province lawyers.

Death threats attributed to senior RCMP, and criminalization of Clark on trumped up charges, are attracting international attention to BC's regressive colonialism and corrupt judicial and political practices.

Indigenous traditionalists and elders are demanding an international, independent, impartial tribunal to deal with BC and Canada's continuing fraudulent and genocidal policies deemed illegal under international law.

Yesterday Haida elder Lavina White stated that "Canada has no right to criticize countries like China for human rights so long as the oppressive colonialization of our peoples continues here at home - we need the attention of the outside world to help us."

Please act to defend the Gustafsen Lake defenders and counsel of choice Dr. Bruce Clark. Sample letters, addresses and links to email for politicians (posted previously) can be found on the SISIS site, at http://kafka.uvic.ca/~vipirg/SISIS/gustlake/letter.html


The Vancouver Sun
Friday, February 21, 1997, Page B08

100 MILE HOUSE -- Flamboyant aboriginal rights lawyer Bruce Clark has been found in contempt of court and will be sentenced today.

The decision was made Thursday by provincial court Judge Nick Friesen, the same judge who issued two warrants for Clark's arrest in the fall of 1995 -- for contempt of court and assaulting a police officer.

Clark will face another judge on the assault charge today.

Clark, instantly recognizable with his shaved head, techno-chic eyeglasses and flair for the dramatic, was held in custody in nearby Williams Lake pending his sentencing.

Clark was representing some of the people charged after a month-long armed standoff at Gustafsen Lake in the B.C. Interior when he was charged in 1995.

He was arrested Tuesday when he returned to B.C. from New Brunswick to help with the defence at the Gustafsen Lake trial.

Crown counsel Bill Hilderman said the contempt charge is a common-law offence and won't leave Clark with a criminal record.

"He will probably set a trial date or set it over," Hilderman said after the hearing. "It will probably go to trial at some point.

"The question of his release [on bail] will also likely come up."

Clark, who did not have a lawyer, and Friesen discussed the circumstances surrounding Clark's outburst before Friesen found he was in contempt, Hilderman said.

The charges were laid after Clark was wrestled to the ground by deputy sheriffs after an outburst in court.

Warrants were issued when he didn't appear on the charges.

Clark had accused Friesen of running a "kangaroo court," but said earlier this week he was prepared to apologize for that remark.

The 30-day armed standoff at Gustafsen Lake began in August 1995 over a dispute between native Indian sundancers and a rancher. The rancher wanted them evicted but the natives claimed the land was on sacred, unceded territory.

Fourteen native and four non-native defendants are charged with weapons and mischief charges. William Jones (Wolverine) Ignace and his son Joseph also face charges of attempted murder.

The trial now is in its ninth month.

The Crown completed its case last week and the defence began Wednesday, estimating it would need about three weeks to complete its witnesses before the case can finally go to the jury.

Clark, who wants to appear for his clients at the standoff trial, needs permission from the Law Society of B.C. and Justice Bruce Josephson.

Clark has spent most of his time in recent years arguing native rights cases.

He lived on a native reserve for seven years and has written two books on aboriginal rights in Canada.

His recurring theme, which has been rejected by Canadian courts, is that some native lands have not been legally surrendered to the Crown.

He says Canadian courts, therefore, have no jurisdiction over natives and that disputes should be settled by an independent, third-party tribunal.


Globe and Mail
Friday, February 21, 1997, Page A4
Canadian Press

Letters to the Globe and Mail can be emailed to: letters@GlobeAndMail.ca

Flamboyant native-rights lawyer Bruce Clark has been found in contempt of court and will be sentenced today. The decision was made yesterday by provincial-court Judge Nick Friesen, who issued two warrants for Mr. Clark's arrest in the fall of 1995 for contempt of court and assaulting a police officer. Mr. Clark is being held in custody in Williams Lake pending his sentencing. Mr Clark was representing some of the people charged after a month-long armed standoff at Gustafsen Lake in the BC Interior when he was charged in 1995.

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