Court Reports - Week 2 - July 15-19/96


WEEK 2: JULY 15 - 19, 1996



  Jul 15 - RCMP selective memory; bail hearing 
  for Wolverine Jul 16 - Excessive force 
  used on Defender; Lyle James questioned Jul 
  17 - Surveying & "ownership" of Sundance site questioned 


MONDAY, JULY 15, 1996

- posted by I.G. Gauvreau

I was not in court today but people who were there told me that Cst. Flemming was on the stand again but did not recall the license or 'green light' to shoot to kill. There is already testimony on the record that this order was given and by whom so it should be brought up again as the trial progresses.

Jones William Ignace was granted a bail hearing by Judge Josephson which took place this afternoon. The two defense lawyers, Harry Rankin and Manuel Azevedo spoke well and the prosecutions presentation seemed lackluster in comparison. William Ignace (Wolverine) also addressed the court. He called himself a political prisoner and placed the blame for his incarceration and the RCMP overkill on the NDP's need to increase its ratings in the polls. The Judge will be giving his decision tomorrow. In considering bail, the judge is primarily concerned with whether the accused will appear for his trial and if he is danger to the public. Mr. Ignace has made it clear over and over again that he wants this trial and for the truth to come out.

Near the end of the day, Lyle James, the alledged owner of the land appeared briefly to take the stand. He will again be on the stand tomorrow.


TUESDAY, JULY 16, 1996

- posted by I.G. Gauvreau

Both of the missing Defenders, Shadow Potlicki and Joseph Ignace turned themselves into today and one of them, Shadow Potlicki was met with excessive force. One of the sheriffs grabbed Shadow and twisted his arm around his back so far that it bent the young man over double. This was completely unnecessary as Shadow had voluntarily surrendered himself. Defense Lawyer George Wool asked Judge Josephson when the court convened but before the jury entered the room about bail conditions for the two returning defendants. The Judge delayed the hearing until the end of the day when he released both on the same bail conditions as previous with the added instruction that the rest of the Defenders also take responsibility for Joseph Ignace. The day before, at the end of the court day, Judge Josephson had heard a bail application for Jones William Ignace. Today the Judge continued to delay his decision on Jones William Ignace's release.

The Judge decided not to allow the statement that Glen Deneault made upon his arrest on September 11, 1996:

1.) No one in the camp wanted to die.

2.) No one in the camp wanted to kill a cop.

3.) They were protecting the women from being shot.

4.) The people in the camp were afraid to die.

5.) The people in the camp wanted the police to just back off so that the people in the camp could think.

Judge Josephson ruled against admitting the statement because it was made after the fact not during the act. Shelagh Franklin requested a copy of the transcript and the Judge, looking uncomfortable, denied her request saying it was not usual for copies to be given out. At 10:20 am the Jury came in and Lyle James took the stand. Because the Prosecution had not provided copies of some disclosures related to the land. After the break motions were heard concerning the admissibility of a map (exhibit 102) which the prosecution wanted not only to admit as an exhibit but hand out to the jury and Lyle James. Defense Lawyer George Wool stated that Lyle James should not testify to the accuracy of the map as he could not possibly do so. The map should not be accepted as a court document without first being validated as to its accuracy in terms of where it came, the history of the transactions. The prosecution had to establish the authenticity of the map before it should be admitted. The map does not establish or validate boundaries of the various sections.

Jones Williams Ignace then rose and spoke saying that the Crown must prove ownership of the land which could only have transferred from native hands in two ways: 1- by treaty or 2- by purchase and neither of these had happened. The Crown insisted that Lyle James would know the boundaries of his land like most homeowners. Defense Lawyer Harry Rankin replied that this situation was much different than most homeowners because property is usually surveyed and stakes placed at the corners and in the case in Lyle James' land, this was not the case. Lyle James wouldn't know the boundaries of his land. An example of the approximate nature of the mapping of the area is that one lot - 247 - appears in quite different places on different maps.

Then Shelagh Franklin, a defendant who is defending herself spoke. She said that the Crown must prove that any deed or map for the land must be proven to be a legal document. On what authority was the land divided for sale? There are burial grounds on the site and the Shuswap never gave up this land.

George Wool then said that the map is question was not a legal survey since it was only a piece of paper with a map done by some person whose last name was Salmon and listed himself as a 'manager'. Lance Bernard, the council for the Crown became visibly upset when it became clear that the map could not with any authenticity establish the boundaries of any property in the area. Not having the map would make things very difficult and he had not foreseen any problem getting the map accepted. Very shortly after, the Judge had to reprimand the Crown Council for making comments while one of the Defense lawyers was speaking. Defense Lawyer Sheldon Tate pointed out that the map had no date and no certification from an official land surveyor. All Lyle James could really do is offer an opinion about where his land was and the jury would have to decide about the boundaries. There was more back and forth about the admissibility of what was now clearly a very dubious map when Defense lawyer Manuel Azevedo rose to say that the Judge had mentioned that the trial could go on to Christmas and at this rate may even go longer and while all this went on Mr. Jones Ignace remained in jail. This should be considered when Judge Josephson contemplates his decision about whether or not to release Mr. Ignace from jail. Judge Josephson then decided that the map would not be entered as an exhibit and that Lyle James would have to point out areas from an aerial photograph. This is an important victory for the Defense and its claim that the ownership of the land where the sacred Sundance site is located is in doubt. Harry Rankin claimed the map wasn't done by the usual procedure and wasn't even signed by a surveyor. (Note: in order to have a legal document establishing boundaries, a legal survey has to be done. No such survey has ever been done on this land.) After Judge Josephson decided in favor of the defence, the jury was brought in and Lyle James took the stand.

Lyle James is a man of about sixty with white hair and glasses. His examination by the Crown was fairly terse with the prosecutor asking leading questions that Mr. James only had to answer with a yes or no. After pointing out generally where he thought 'his' land was located, he went on to describe his first meeting with Percy Rosette in 1989 when Mr. Rosette went to Mr. James ranch to ask for permission to use a small parcel of land for the Sundance. Although Percy was alone, he was quite strong because according to Mr. James he said "If you don't give me permission, I'll pull the Indian Act on you." The agreement was for one year only according to Mr. James.

The jury was once again removed from the courtroom when the Defence objected to the prosecution bringing up a shooting at campers that was found to be caused by Caucasian hunters. The Defense found it irrelevant and the Judge agreed, once again making a ruling that went against the prosecution.

Lyle returned to the stand and testified that in 1993 there was a meeting at the suggestion of the RCMP with Percy and the Sundancers to allow the Sundance for that year since it was too late to cancel it and people were already on their way. In August 8th of 1993, Mr. James received a letter signed by Percy announcing "WE do not intend to give up our ceremony or the survival of our culture."

After the lunch break, when court resumed at 2:30 pm, Lyle James again took the stand and continued to be questioned by the Crown attorney Lance Bernard. In 1995 Lyle testified that he and 10 (later he said 12) cowhands went to the site on June 13, 1995 to present Percy with trespass notice. He said that when he got there only John Stevens (the Sundance Spiritual leader from Alberta who ended the 'standoff' peacefully) was there with his two sons and three or four others. Lyle and the cowhands waited for two hours for Percy occupying themselves with ripping out the stove on the cookhouse and removing the doors because they had been on buildings Lyle James owned. He took this action because he saw that a fence had been put up and a permanent residence constructed. On the way to serve the trespass notice, they were met by three RCMP officers who refused to accompany them to Percy's because they thought it might cause trouble if they did. Again, Mr. James stated that 10 or 12 cowhands were 'witnesses' to the serving of the trespass notice. Mr. James's son video taped the event.

The next day, June 14, 1995 Lyle and his cowhands went back to the clearing to see if Percy had complied with the trespass order. They were met by the RCMP who would not let them go on. Mr. James did not go to the clearing again until after the 'standoff' ended. In late August he met with Ovide Mercredi, Agnes Snow, Antoine Archie and others to draft an agreement. Harry Rankin objected that the Canoe Creek band was a third party to the event and not relevant. Judge Josephson asked if the agreement had ever been communicated to the Defendants. (It wasn't). When Lyle James saw the clearing after the standoff he found changes to the clearing: toilets, a well, small buildings. He used a skidder to level it all.

Harry Rankin then cross-examined Mr. James. Although he had no trouble with his cattle in 1989 to 1994 with the Sundance he claimed that he suffered a loss in 1995 because of restrictions to the cattle's movement. He got vague about how much land he owned settling for the figure of 18,000 acres with about million more with just grazing rights. He refused to be specific about acreage with just grazing rights saying it was measured in "animal unit months' and claiming he paid roughly $20,000 per year.

Under Mr. Rankin's questioning, Mr. James admitted meeting with politicians Zirnheld, Wiesberger, Philip Mayfield (MP for the area) and a Mr. Epp.

Mr. Rankin established that two RCMP officers (Crpl. Hicks) had issued reports expressing concern about Mr. Lyle's confrontational attitude and that he had to be warned often to keep his cowhands in check. Points in Hicks report: (spring, 1995)

Lyle James had lost patience. - Mr. James denied this was true.

Lyle James lawyer said he wanted 25 - 30 thousand dollars for a civil suit. - Mr. James said that was true but he didn't tell Hicks.

"I'm not spending that kind of money to get people off my land" Hicks reports Mr. James as saying. - Mr. James denies saying this.

In this report, Crpl Hicks expresses concern that someone was going to get hurt and that we (sic) with his confrontational approach. He was one of the RCMP officers who prevented Mr. James and his hired hands from going to the clearing to see if Percy adhered to the trespass notice on June 14, 1995.

Mr. James admitted that one of the cowhands did have a bullwhip when they went to deliver the trespass notice but that it was new and he was just playing with it like a new toy. He claimed that he did not know the bull whip was there. He also claimed that no one used the phrase 'red nigger' because when they saw it in the paper, they discussed it and no one admitted they said it. Mr. Rankin commented on the taking of the stove and the doors. Rankin questioned the large number of witnesses for the serving of the trespass notice.

Staff Sgt. Sarich made several report concerning Lyle James and the Sundancers from late June 1995 on. Sarich phoned several times and asked Lyle to keep his people in check.

Mr. James claimed he was advised to by his lawyers (Ladner, Downs). Mr. James denied any knowledge of a law company named Bull, Howser & Tupper).

Mr. Lyle faces more cross examination tomorrow from Mr. Rankin and the other Defense lawyers.



Ph. (604) 251-1409
Fax: (604) 251-6401
- posted by Free Media

SURREY, B.C.. - Defense Lawyer George Wool in a surprising turn of events ended yesterday's day of questioning of rancher Lyle James who claims to own the land where the Gustafsen Lake 'standoff' occurred by implying that the surveying in the area is not only not legal but could put the rancher's lot in a variety of locations including under Gustafsen Lake itself.

This revelation follows an earlier attack on the validity of Lyle James' claim to private ownership to the area when a map presented by the prosecution as evidence was found to be inadmissible because it did not follow the proper procedure in that it was not backed by a legal survey and was not officially certified. The issue is that a legal deed is not possible until there has been a legal survey which has not been done, the Crown may not be able to prove that the 'standoff' occurred on private property. It would take months and a great deal of money for a legal survey to be done.

Lyle James takes the stand again today to face more questioning by Defense Lawyer George Wool.

JULY 18, 1996 10:00 am