More decisions by B.C. judge are being appealed

Yukon prosecutors are appealing two more rulings of a visiting territorial court judge who has already had some of his decisions overturned. Earlier this month, two sentences handed out by B.C.

Yukon prosecutors are appealing two more rulings of a visiting territorial court judge who has already had some of his decisions overturned.

Earlier this month, two sentences handed out by B.C. judge Dennis Schmidt were overturned by the Yukon Supreme Court.

In the case of Donald Tutin, a Whitehorse bouncer who pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm, Schmidt handed down a 12-month suspended sentence.

The judge said Tutin, despite his dysfunctional childhood and early years, had pulled his life together.

“The criminal courts mostly deal in failure: people’s failure and their own. It might be shocking to hear, that being said, but in the 40 years that I have been in the criminal justice system, 33 years as a judge, I have seen the courts fail over and over and over again. Every time we get a criminal record handed out, which is daily and many times a day, it documents a failure. Pages and pages of courts giving sentences that fail, and people continue to be involved in the justice system,” Schmidt wrote in his sentencing decision.

“And I only say that because we need to, at some point, put our experience together and celebrate success when we see it, which is so rare we forget that we have to celebrate success. And in this case, we have a story of success.”

The decision was overturned and upgraded to house arrest.

In the case of Craig Gagnon, a 29-year-old from Mayo, Schmidt gave him a suspended sentence and six months probation for violating his probation and possession of cocaine.

That was increased to 30 days house arrest curfew.

Now prosecutors are appealing two more of Schmidt’s decisions.

Ashton Rosenthal was given two years probation after being convicted for sexually assaulting someone at a party.

The second case is that of Teri Lynn Schinkel. She pleaded guilty to impaired driving causing bodily harm, dangerous driving and refusing a breathalyzer.

Schinkel sped, sometimes drove in the wrong lane, flouted stop signs and hit medians.

She hit another car and that car was pushed off the road and across the median and over a bank, according to Schmidt’s decision.

She was given a 60-day jail sentence, but she was allowed to serve that time intermittently.

Schmidt has made it clear he will look for other options than sending someone to jail.

In the Schinkel case, he describes his time working in Alert Bay, B.C. where he was able to sit with First Nation community members and learn about their history.

“In that community, in the next six years, I did not send another person to jail. But it was not because I was not going to send any more aboriginals to jail. I said to them at the end of this very trying time that if you give me an alternative that is restorative, that brings this person back into the community that you are involved in, I will not send them to jail unless there is no reasonable alternative.”

Specific details of the Rosenthal and Schinkel appeals were not available and no date has been set yet.

Meanwhile, lawyers were in court yesterday planning for the next sitting of the B.C./Yukon Court of Appeal in November.

The panel of judges will be in the Yukon for a week starting Nov. 17.

Lawyers were asked to confirm they’re ready to go, so that the official schedule can be set.

So far, cases on the list involve such matters as a long-running battle between a former bison herd rancher and the Yukon government over whether or not he waited too long to sue. Other cases include the matter colloquially known as the “Yukon time” case. Two companies and the Yukon government went to the Supreme Court asking a judge to clarify when exactly – down to the second – a tender contract has to be handed in by.

The judges will also hear an appeal by a local businessman who had his defamation lawsuit against the CBC dismissed after a supreme court judge said he did not comply with the rules.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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