Pubdate: Tue, 03 Apr 2007
Source: Western Star, The (CN NF)
Copyright: 2007 The Western Star
Author: Gary Kean


Thirteen Cases Still Before the Courts

CORNER BROOK - The bulk of matters relating to a major drug bust in 
western Newfoundland nearly two years ago continue to be set over in 
the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador.

There have been some convictions since the rash of arrests July 2005, 
which saw some 20 people arrested on numerous drug-related charges 
stemming from the investigation into the alleged distribution of 
controlled substances such as cocaine, hashish, ecstasy and marijuana 
on the west coast of the province. The range of charges include 
conspiracy to traffic, possession, trafficking and production.

Despite some convictions, there are 13 individuals whose cases are 
still before the courts.

In the Supreme Court here Monday, those remaining cases were called. 
Most of them were set over until the next arraignment date, May 7. 
Considering several people are charged on a number of different 
information sheets and some are charged jointly with other 
individuals, the matters are complex to deal with. The issues arising 
include the consolidation of joint trials and the individual 
elections of trial by judge or trial by judge and jury.

Justice Richard LeBlanc told the two lawyers representing three 
jointly accused, who were looking for their next court date to be 
scheduled for late October, and the Crown prosecutor handling that 
particular case that he would like to have the matters set for 
earlier than the fall.

"A trial is not going to happen until 2008 at the rate things are 
going," noted Justice LeBlanc.

Though the judge agreed to reserve Oct. 29-30 to hear the 
applications the defence intends to file with the court, Justice 
LeBlanc said he wanted to have a teleconference next week with the 
lawyers involved to see if something else could be worked out. The 
matters will be called again May 7 to formally update the court.

In separate matters involving a total of 10 individuals, and which 
involve different combinations of those individuals charged on 
different information sheets, Justice LeBlanc said some case 
management was needed. Since he is not going to be the trial judge 
for those cases, he said he would be meeting with all of the lawyers 
representing these individuals, either separately or together via a 
teleconference, if required, to find out what direction each of the 
parties intends to take.

"There needs to be some co-ordination," said Justice LeBlanc, noting 
that these cases would take up unnecessary court time without some 
sort of case management approach.
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