June 24th, 2024

Dangerous driving trial postponed

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on January 24, 2023.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

The trial for a southern Alberta woman charged with dangerous driving in relation to the Coutts border protest and blockade last year, has been cancelled.

The two-day trial for Joanne Person was scheduled to begin Feb. 16, but it was vacated Monday in Lethbridge provincial court after her lawyer, Kelsey Sitar of Calgary, withdrew as counsel.

“Miss Person has discharged me on this matter,” Sitar told the judge. “She’s advised she no longer wants me to represent her.”

The charge stems from an incident Feb. 1 when a pickup truck drove through the blockade and headed toward oncoming traffic before becoming involved in a head-on collision.

Person said she hasn’t seen any disclosure on the case, and she agreed with the Crown there would likely not be enough time to receive the information, review it, and be ready for the trial.

“If Miss Person hasn’t seen her disclosure, I don’t know how we run a trial in less than four weeks time from now,” Crown Prosecutor Steven Johnston said.

Johnston added that since Person plans to represent herself, more than two days will likely be needed to run a new trial.

Person, who confirmed she will likely represent herself at trial, said in addition to receiving disclosure, she needs time to prepare her defence.

“I have witnesses, I have men and women who saw what happened,” Person said. “There is also video recording.”

The matter is scheduled to return Feb. 6 to set a date for a pre-trial conference, during which a new trial date can be scheduled.

Person had also been charged with mischief and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose in relation to the protest, and was scheduled to have a preliminary hearing on Jan. 16. However, the charges were withdrawn on the day of the hearing.

Person, who was representing herself, pleaded not guilty to the charges last August and elected to be tried by a Court of King’s Bench judge and a jury, with a preliminary hearing. A preliminary hearing is typically held to determine if there is enough evidence to warrant a trial.

The Crown did not provide any reasons for withdrawing the charges, and a gun police seized from Person’s Coutts residence was forfeited for destruction.

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