(Joel Krahn/Yukon News)

Whitehorse lawyer offers snarky reply to Crown request to adjourn appeal hearing

‘Perhaps PPSC Yukon could stop prosecuting bail breaches at a rate 415,000.00% higher than in Quebec’

A Whitehorse lawyer has submitted a snide reply in response to a Crown application asking that an appeal hearing for a first-degree murder conviction be adjourned.

A jury found Norman Larue guilty of first-degree murder in 2013 for his role in the 2008 slaying of 63-year-old Gordon Seybold in his Whitehorse-area home. Larue, who had pleaded not guilty to the charge, filed an appeal later that year, the latest iteration of which was filed to the Court of Appeal Sept. 5.

Among the grounds for the appeal are the trial judge not granting a change of venue to ensure an impartial jury and allowing as evidence audio and video recording made by undercover police officers of Larue’s former partner and co-accused Christina Asp.

The Crown submitted a notice of application Oct. 13 stating it would be requesting more time to file its factum and for an adjournment of the appeal hearing, scheduled to take place Nov. 21.

“Assigned Crown counsel have been engaged in other substantial, complex litigation activities throughout the summer and early fall months which have necessarily, though regrettably, interfered with the Crown’s availability to conclude our review of the appeal materials and our factum drafting endeavours,” the notice reads, also pointing out that the original Crown attorneys from Larue’s trial are “not available to assist … in digesting and summarizing the trial proceedings” as relevant to the appeal.

“An extension of time is requested in the interest of justice and is, in the Crown’s submission required to permit Crown counsel a sufficient opportunity to respond comprehensively to the Appellant’s summary of the facts and the legal arguments included in his factum.”

Larue’s current lawyer, Vincent Larochelle, submitted a reply the same day.

“The (Crown) points to its significant case-load as an explanation for its application. The appellant has much sympathy for this, but as (a) legal aid staff lawyer is no stranger to high workloads,” his reply reads.

“The calendar of the appellant’s counsel is a grim sight to behold, ladden (sic) with appeals, dangerous offender hearings, complex trials and insufficient vacation … perhaps (the Public Prosecution Service of Canada) Yukon could stop prosecuting bail breaches at a rate 415,000.00% (sic) higher than in Quebec in order to reduce its case load and that of Legal Aid staff.”

Larochelle was also unsympathetic to the Crown’s argument that the original prosecutors are no longer working for PPSC, noting that one of them “was available from 2013 until his well publicized retirement in April 2017 to assist Crown counsel in the preparation of this appeal.”

“Appellant’s counsel, despite acting alone in this matter, and despite this heavy case-load, has respected his engagements for filing material. There is no reason why respondent’s counsel should not be held to the same standard,” the reply says.

“The hearing of Mr. Larue’s appeal is long overdue,” the reply concludes. “The application for an adjournment should be dismissed.”

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

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