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Lack of jury causes mistrialYellowknife court unable to fill French jury
for accused former Inuvik teacher
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, August 15, 2013
A former Inuvik teacher charged with sexual touching of a minor had his trial thrown out of a Yellowknife court Aug. 13.
Hugues Latour outside of the Yellowknife courthouse last January. Latour was charged with sexual interference with a minor and trafficking marijuana. A mistrial on the charges was declared Aug. 13. - NNSL file photo
Hugues Latour, a former school teacher in Inuvik, had been charged with sexual touching and encouraging sexual touching of a person under the age of 16. Latour, originally from Quebec, is also charged with trafficking marijuana.
Justice Louise Charbonneau declared a mistrial because the court was only able to elect two jurors. Charbonneau decided it was unrealistic to expect the other 10 spots required to begin a trial would be filled by bilingual citizens.
More than 600 Yellowknifers were called to be summoned to court. Out of those, only 40 were able to show up for jury selection on Aug. 12. Potential jurors were required to be bilingual in French and English. Latour elected to have his trial in French, which he is entitled to as a Canadian citizen.
Defence lawyer Serge Petitpas moved for mistrial on Aug. 12, alleging irregularities in how the court sheriff excused jurors. Yellowknifers who declared they did not speak French were excused from jury duty over the phone.
Charbonneau shot down the motion, declaring the sheriff had done his job properly.
Crown prosecutor Marc Lecorre then requested jurors be found by having the court appoint a person to go on to city streets and find bystanders and residents to fill the vacant jury spots.
Charbonneau rejected the request, saying it was unrealistic to fill the 10 vacant spots with bilingual jurors. She dismissed the two elected jurors, thanking them for their co-operation, then declared a mistrial.
Latour is released on conditions. He lives in Alexandria, Ont.
The Crown is evaluating its options for prosecuting Latour. Lecorre said he's considering options such as relocating the trial, but he'll need the rest of the week to make a decision on how to proceed.