Thursday, April 14, 2011

Final Arguments End

In the Vancouver Sun, Daphne Bramham sums up the final day's arguments.  She writes:

If Canada's polygamy law is upheld, the court must clearly define the practise and spell out what polygamists must do to comply with the law, the lawyer for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints said Wednesday.

Robert Wickett noted that when special prosecutor Richard Peck recommended a constitutional reference case to determine whether the law is valid, he did so because he believed that the fundamentalist Mormons in Bountiful needed fair notice that the status quo had changed.

In 1992, the B.C. government declined to prosecute two men from Bountiful because it had legal opinions suggesting that the polygamy law breached the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom and possibly the guarantees of freedom of association and expression.

As a result, there were no polygamy charges laid until 2009 when then-attorney general Wally Oppal decided that the best way to test the law was within the context of a criminal trial. He hired another special prosecutor who agreed. 

Winston Blackmore and James Oler -- two of Bountiful's leaders -- were subsequently charged with one count each of polygamy. Those charges were stayed after a judge determined that the second prosecutor was improperly hired.

Wickett made the comments Wednesday in his closing argument in the constitutional reference case that's being heard by Chief Justice Robert Bauman of the B.C. Supreme Court.

However, Wickett argued that the law ought to be struck down because it doesn't criminalize the conjugal relationship, it criminalizes the specific intent to agree to a multi-partner, conjugal relationship.

In the Globe & Mail, James Keller summed up the final day's arguments in this way:
The polygamous families living in Bountiful, B.C., shouldn’t be ripped apart because some in the community may have committed crimes, a lawyer for the isolated religious sect told court Wednesday.

Robert Wickett, who represents the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or FLDS, didn’t deny the allegations of abuse, child brides and human trafficking that have become central to the debate about whether polygamy should remain illegal.

law against polygamy later this year.

1 comment:

  1. Typical ruse of the FLDS Church community is that you can't single out the 'Bad Acts' of a few members and blame the whole community. The slight of hand is ignoring the tenets of their faith that leads some members to break the Law while the entire community unites behind these criminal behaviors. How many FLDS Church members brought the sex trafficking of minors to RCMP attention and offered to witness or demand that the Law do something? This is the falsehood to their claims that the entire community isn't culpable when it really is an active accessory to the crominal acts. The Prophet and Bishops in the FLDS Church are not forced to resign after they are indicted, convicted or incarcerated. The community does not shun the convicted felons but rather proclaims them to be persecuted and innocent victims. The behavior is 'Mafioso Family' style wherein the criminal acts are condoned and tolerated.