April 29, 1996
NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C.- Judge David Vickers today released one of the Ts'peten Defenders, Joseph Ignace, to the custody of his mother Florence Sampson, also a Ts'peten Defender, under a series of bail conditions including an assessment for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome as an outpatient at a Kamloops facility. Although Crown Attorney Lance Bernard had stressed that Judge Vickers should only consider a release if there had been a significant change in the evidence or one of the previous judges had been in error, Judge Vickers was so concerned about FAS as a factor in Joseph Ignace's case that he interrupted Crown's presentation to hand out to lawyers for both sides a two page Ministry of the Attorney General's Office information sheet on the subject. This belated concern comes after RCMP had collected a series of statements from Mr. Joseph Ignace which led to the attempted murder charges in the first place. As well, Mr. Joseph Ignace often appeared in previous court sessions with signs of having been subjected to physical violence.
Defense Lawyer George Wool acting for Joseph Ignace pointed out that the day after Mr. Joseph Ignace was arrested RCMP Constable Russell had spent a great deal of time with the defendant in order to get statements concerning the events surrounding the attempted murder charges alleged to have occurred during the so-called Gustafsen Lake Standoff. Although Judge Vickers implied that Joseph may have been under the influence of his father William Ignace (Wolverine) he was silent on the prolonged influence exerted by the questionable tactics of the RCMP when questioning Mr. Joseph Ignace. It is important to note that the first Judge, Judge Baird who is very familiar with the area and the realities of native people, released both Mr. Joseph Ignace and Mr. William Ignace on bail and that both father and son appeared voluntarily for the second hearing which led to an incarceration that has lasted seven months. During that time, Mr. Joseph Ignace who is now being construed as impressionable was considered as capable of being questioned by the RCMP relentlessly. At some point during the coming trial, the tactics of the RCMP both during and after the alleged stand-off are going to have to come under the closest scrutiny.
Defense Lawyers George Wool and Don Campbell made it very clear that statements made by the RCMP during the stand-off that are not even validated by the Crown's own disclosures have never been publicly retracted. "It's like they are already presumed to be guilty," said one observer today in court. "I thought in Canada, people were presumed innocent, how can they stand-up against this overwhelming wall of racism - they couldn't get away with this if these people were white."