Nathalie Normandeau and her six co-defendants’ trial is likely to be paralyzed from square one by numerous requests from defense lawyers.
In the aftermath of the revelations pertaining to direct indictment by the Crown – which will inevitably lead to the quashing of the preliminary inquiry – counsel for one of the other accused did not hesitate to criticize the public prosecutors’ actions.
Me Jean-Claude Hébert, lawyer for former Roche firm president Mario Martel (who faces 10 counts), accuses the Crown of its lack of courtesy and collaboration in disclosing proof. The tensions, which are palpable between both parties, are an announcement of the filing of several requests. Legitimate or not, they will necessarily slow down the procedures.
The proof, a “mess”
“You can imagine that the defense attorneys, following a pre-trial conference in the Superior Court, are likely to present a series of motions, each with recriminations. And there will surely be many motions concerning the quantity and quality of the disclosure of the evidence. Without revealing any State secrets, I must tell you that this situation is a mess” hammered Me Hébert in interview.
“There are several years of investigation… It is impossible to make sense out of all this, so there will be requests that are, in my humble opinion, quite justified to do the housework to follow the thread,” he added.
“I see the correspondence go [between the Crown and the defense] and it plays tight. We ask questions and ask questions, but we do not have answers. The only solution we have is to make requests to the court. We are there.” Other lawyers, such as Jacques Larochelle, representing former Liberal minister Marc-Yvan Côté, are also considering filing a motion to stay the proceedings.
Delay to be expected
In this context, it is unthinkable, according to the defense, to consider a quick trial despite the cancellation of the preliminary inquiry which was to take place in June and early July. Moreover, the Court of Québec file will be automatically referred to the Superior Court because of the filing of a direct indictment.
New dates will have to be set and the availability of a judge for a judge and jury trial likely to be significantly longer than the five to six weeks initially scheduled for the preliminary inquiry.
Nathalie Normandeau, Marc-Yvan Côté, Bruno Lortie, France Michaud, Mario Martel, François Roussy and Ernest Murray are facing various counts of conspiracy, fraud, corruption and breach of trust.
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