TS'PETEN DEFENCE COMMITTEE
174-1472 Commercial Drive, Vancouver, Salish Territory, V5L 3X9
Phone: (604) 322-7934, Fax: (604) 323-0224
March 3, 1997
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
VANCOUVER, Salish Territory -- Supporters of Dr. Bruce Clark and independent observers have expressed outrage following Dr. Clark's bail hearing February 25, 1997. In the B.C. Supreme Court Judge G.S. Cumming on Tuesday did not grant bail pending an appeal hearing to Dr. Clark on the grounds that the court felt Dr. Clark would not show up for this appeal. Dr. Clark's lawyer, Manuel A. Azevedo, was accompanied in court by Harry Rankin, Q.C., a very senior and renowned Vancouver-based civil rights lawyer. Mr. Azevedo, on behalf of Dr. Clark, had applied to the court for Dr. Clark to be released on bail pending Dr. Clark's appeal. The appeal of Dr. Clark's conviction for contempt has been set for March 11, 1997, in the B.C. Court of Appeal, 800 Smithe street in Vancouver.
Before Dr. Clark returned to British Columbia he had corresponded with Ray Hall, Regional Crown Counsel, and attempted to setup a trial date. Dr. Clark had advised the crown counsel of his date and time of arrival, including the flight number, in that correspondence. Dr. Clark had been advised by Mr. Hall to return to B.C. and "render yourself unto the Court and seek to address the warrant and the necessary hearing and/or trial date issues." Dr. Clark had made it very clear he was returning to B.C. for two purposes: (1) to act as defence lawyer for his clients at the Gustafsen Lake trial for the opening of their defence and (2) to address the outstanding contempt charges against himself. Even given these facts, the Judge declined to grant bail pending appeal saying Clark would flee.
Harry Rankin and other lawyers who were present and witnessed the proceedings watched in disbelief that the bail was not granted based on the facts.
The original charges were one count of contempt of court and three counts of assaulting an officer. The assault charges arose when Dr. Clark attempted to raise his clients' point of law that the newcomer court did not have jurisdiction to try them. Although Dr. Clark had been assured by the RCMP that he could speak to his clients, Dr. Clark was denied access the night before and on the day of their hearing and the RCMP barred his way into the locked courtroom and assaulted him again at the counsel table, both before and after the judge charged him with contempt for challenging the court's assumption of jurisdiction. Dr. Clark accepted the court's jurisdiction over himself and apologized, but the judge demanded that he also drop his clients' legal challenge to jurisdiction. When Dr. Clark declined, he was sentenced for contempt of court to 3 months incarceration. Two of the assault counts were dropped and the remaining assault count was reduced to resisting arrest with a sentence of one day to be served concurrently with the 3 month contempt of court sentence.
Present at Dr. Clark's sentencing was lawyer Mr. Lyall Gardiner who had observed the original incidents outside the court room and had come to the court as a witness. Mr. Gardiner, who himself tried to gain entry to the court room and found the door locked, watched as Dr. Clark approached the door, found it was locked, advised the police officers that he acted for the accused and he should be allowed into court room, and was advised by the police that they were on instruction not to let anyone else into the court room. Dr. Clark continued to try the door prompting one officer to grab Dr. Clark's arm and the other officer to grab Dr. Clark's other arm to move Dr. Clark away from the door. At this point Mr. Gardiner's view became obscured, but Dr. Clark gained entry to the court room, and no one else was let in.
Prior to the above locked-door incident, Mr. Gardiner had been in the cell area where some of Sundancers were being held. Mr. Gardiner was also prepared to testify that at least one of the Sundancers, Glen Deneault, indicated clearly that Dr. Clark was their counsel and that Mr. Deneault was asking to see Dr. Clark.
The points Dr. Clark attempted to raise before sentencing were:
The judge had proceeded directly from a "show cause" hearing to register a conviction. Under the 1997 Martin's rules, it is required that following a contempt hearing an accused person must have an adjournment to prepare his defence and witnesses for a trial before an impartial judge. When Dr. Clark declined to drop his client's point of law, the same judge charging Dr. Clark went straight to conviction without a trial taking place before an impartial judge. Dr. Clark feels that, as a lawyer, he is not at liberty arbitrarily to deny his clients their right to put forward their legal argument.Dr. Bruce Clark joins his client William Jones Ignace, also known as Wolverine, as British Columbia's second political prisoner as a result of the jurisdiction dispute between the Newcomer courts' government (Canada) and sovereign native nations within their unceded territories. Mr. Ignace, a Secwepemc (Shuswap) traditionalist, has been falsely imprisoned as a result of the Gustafsen Lake siege in British Columbia without any evidence in support of the charges against him since September 29, 1995.
Most importantly, Judge Friesen refused to allow Dr. Clark to advise him that on September 12, 1995, the Supreme Court of Canada had ruled that the Delgamuukw case (the Gitksan-Wet'suwet'en case) had not addressed the jurisdiction issue, but in fact the Supreme Court had directed Dr. Clark to raise that issue before a trial level judge in British Columbia. Three days later Dr. Clark attempted to do precisely that before Judge Friesen on September 15, 1995, when Judge Friesen ordered him held for examination in the psychiatric hospital for criminally insane for raising the issue. (In Judge Friesen's reasons for judgment on the contempt charge, Judge Friesen refused to accept (1) the psychiatric finding that Dr. Clark is logical and sane and (2) the Law Society of Upper Canada's refusal to disbar Dr. Clark and that Law Society's finding that judges should address the law.) By refusing to hear Dr. Clark on the ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada, Judge Friesen continued to rely on the Williams case (originating from Lil'Wat Territory) which itself assumed that the Delgamuukw case had ruled on jurisdiction. (The Williams case is one of 40 cases which rely on the Delgamuukw case to say that the jurisdiction issue had been addressed.) Judge Friesen did not want to be informed even on the law on which he was relying.
- 30 -
For more information contact:
Ts'peten Defence Committee spokespersons:
Splitting The Sky, phone/fax: (604) 543-9661
Bill Lightbown, phone: (604) 251-4949
Ts'peten Legal Defence Team:
Manuel Azevedo, phone: (604) 687-0231, fax: (604) 687-0241
Margaret Clark, c/o phone: (604) 687-0231, fax: (604) 687-0241