Court adjourns polygamist Winston Blackmore's constitutional challenge hearing
Winston Blackmore, who is accused of practising polygamy in a fundamentalist religious community, returns to court after a lunch break in Cranbrook, B.C., Tuesday, April 18, 2017.
CRANBROOK — Winston Blackmore’s application challenging the constitutionality of Canada’s polygamy law was adjourned Tuesday before it even started.
The problem is that Blackmore’s lawyer, Blair Suffredine, has missed a long string of filing deadlines that were meant to keep the court process on track.
He failed to give notice of a constitutional challenge in the original pretrial conferences. He missed the deadline for filing the application after he indicated during Blackmore’s polygamy trial in April that he intended to make a constitutional application.
Suffredine also missed Justice Sheri Ann Donegan’s Oct. 2 deadline for filing the Blackmore affidavit, a set of agreed-on facts and a book of legal authorities.
On Tuesday, Crown prosecutor Peter Wilson told the judge that he only received Blackmore’s latest affidavit late Monday night and in a format that he couldn’t open on his computer.
Normally, Wilson said, he would object to the filing, but “I am painfully aware that Mr. Blackmore is due his day in court.”
And while the prosecutor said he he hadn’t intended to cross-examine Blackmore on the original affidavit, he needed time to review the new one and to prepare to question Blackmore on what he’s filed.
As for the material that he needs to review? It’s in Wilson’s office in Vancouver.
“In 35 years, I have never stood up to cross-examine a witness without being prepared and I’m not prepared to do that,” he said. “It’s not fair that I’m put in that position now.”
As Wilson predicted when he began his remarks, the judge was not happy.
“This is an important case and fairness is integral to the entire process including fairness to the Crown to be properly prepared,” she said. “With reluctance, I will adjourn even after all of the steps that have been taken to manage to get to this point.”
In court, Suffredine said, “Certainly, I agree I have difficulty meeting deadline. But the affidavit is 80 per cent the same as what given recently.”
That said, he didn’t object to the adjournment.