Posted by on Jul 17, 2018 in Featured

Twelve people sentenced by BC Supreme Court for civil disobedience against TransMountain Pipeline

Twelve people sentenced by BC Supreme Court for civil disobedience against TransMountain Pipeline

BC Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Affleck convicted 12 people of criminal contempt of court this week for violating the injunction while engaging in civil disobedience. One defendant—indigenous coast protector Kat Roivas—was acquitted due to insufficient evidence that she violated the injunction.

Twelve people convicted at trial are sentenced

The 12 people who were arrested on March 17 and March 19, and subsequently convicted in June by Justice Affleck, were sentenced last week to varying terms of punishment. Four defendants— Bill Burgess, Jim Leuba, Nancy McLEan and Clayton Thomas-Muller—were sentenced to pay a $3,000 fine, in accordance with the Crown’s sentencing recommendations. Another defendant, Charles Coleman, was sentenced to pay a $2,000 fine, reduced from $3,000 due to mitigating factors.

Two defendants—Tom Sandborn and Errol Povah—were sentenced to 150 hours of community service, in accordance with the Crown’s sentencing recommendations. The Crown recommended, and the judge acceded to, an additional punishment for Errol, who is also required to abide by a 500-metre “stay-out” zone around all Trans Mountain property based on allegations that he was protesting at Trans Mountain sites on other occasions (yet was not arrested), and for comments Errol made about his case and the court in the mainstream media.

Four defendants— Simin Eghbali-Tabrizi, Johanna Hauser, Gareth Rowbotham and Natan Vilner—were sentenced to 125 hours of community service, reduced from 150 hours due to mitigating factors.

Kat Roivas, who was arrested three times, was convicted on one charge of criminal contempt for her March 17 arrest and pleaded guilty to criminal contempt for her May 5 arrest. The Crown recommended that Kat be sentenced to 250 hours of community service with a 500-metre “stay-out” zone around all Trans Mountain property. Kat’s lawyer at the time, Naomi Minwalla, argued against the geographical restrictions and Justice Affleck relented.

The Crown dismisses more charges

The Crown also dismissed charges against three more people last week, most notably the cases of indigenous mother and daughter, Myria and Crystal Smith, who were violently arrested by the RCMP on March 19. The Crown has now dismissed charges against 11 people arrested for contempt.

Six more plead ‘not guilty’ and are summarily convicted in order to appeal a pretrial motion

Six more people pleaded ‘not guilty’ and were summarily convicted of criminal contempt without a trial in order to appeal a pretrial motion denied by Justice Affleck in May. Defence lawyer Chilwin Cheng is appealing Justice Affleck’s ruling on the motion which would have eliminated the distinction in Common Law between ‘criminal’ and ‘civil’ contempt of court. Previously, twelve defendants had pleaded ‘not guilty,’ bringing the total number of appellants to 18.

Guilty pleas

Several more people pleaded guilty last week, bringing the total number of guilty pleas to 100 out of 211 arrested for criminal contempt since the injunction was issued on March 16.

First appearance for 70-year old grandmother facing 7 days in jail

Seventy-year old grandmother Laurie Embree, who was arrested on June 19, had her first appearance in court last week. Laurie is the first person arrested for contempt after the Crown announced it would seek 7 days in jail for any future arrestees. Laurie was given a trial date of August 13, but she may plead guilty early to avoid further penalties.

Youth arrested for contempt has one-day trial date set

Out of more than 200 defendants, only one youth was arrested and charged with contempt. Sylas Bradley had previously requested diversion to Youth Court, which was granted by Justice Affleck, but for unknown reasons got redirected back to the BC Supreme Court. Justice Affleck set a one-day trial for Sylas on August 3.

Next trial

No hearings or trials related to Kinder Morgan’s injunction are scheduled to occur until July 30, when the third trial is set to begin.

* * *

Kris Hermes is a paid legal support coordinator for the “Protect the Inlet” coalition and a member of the Terminal City Legal Collective.