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Appeals court to hear three cases

Terrence McEachern
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Court of Appeal for the NWT is scheduled to hear three cases for its next sitting in Yellowknife on Oct. 18.

The first appeal, set for 10 a.m., is from Agnes Christensen, a woman found to be unlawfully occupying a 3,025-square-metre plot of territorial government land with her son off the Ingraham Trail just east of the Dettah Road turnoff.

They have been there without permission from the GNWT since May 2000. She was given an eviction notice on April 23, 2010, and on Nov. 5, 2010, after several court appearances, Justice Edward Richard ruled that Christensen, 51, and her son, Clayton, must vacate the land in three months along with their mobile homes, vehicles, sheds and other possessions.

Richard also granted the GNWT the freedom to apply for damages if the condition of the land warrants it and ordered Christensen to compensate the territorial government for costs incurred as a result of the legal action.

Court records show Christensen - who represented herself throughout the court process, saying she couldn't find a lawyer - is appealing on the grounds that Richard didn't take into consideration her Treaty 8 land rights and didn't give her more time to find a lawyer. She filed an appeal of the finding, based on the Northwest Territories Act and Commissioner's Land Act, on Dec. 20, 2010. The Alberta-based law firm Rath and Company has agreed to represent her at the appeal.

Next on the docket is the Crown's appeal against a Hay River man accused of sexual assault and sexual interference. He was accused of touching a 14-year-old girl on Aug. 27, 2009 but found not guilty.

The 66-year-old man first appeared in court in Hay River on Aug. 28, 2009, and was ordered to stand trial on March 26, 2010 after a preliminary inquiry.

A ban preventing the publication of the complainant's identity in the media was ordered on Oct. 1, 2010. The accused was acquitted by a Hay River jury on Dec. 9, 2010, following a three-day trial.

The Crown prosecutor's office filed the appeal on Jan. 20, 2011, requesting a new trial on the grounds that trial judge Marsha Erb erred by excluding a statement given to police by the accused and other grounds that the court may permit.

Last on the docket is Lloyd Gordon's appeal. Gordon, 43, was sentenced to three years in prison on Jan. 24, 2011, for aggravated assault after wounding another man on May 28, 2010, in Fort Simpson. At Gordon's Dec. 8, 2010, trial, the victim, 38 at the time, told the court he went to Gordon's apartment looking for his cousin. He said he and Gordon had a brief altercation in the hallway and that Gordon stabbed him in the stomach; although he didn't see the weapon. The stabbing victim then walked to the health care where he received 32 stitches to his stomach to close the wound. Gordon, who pleaded not guilty to the charge on June 23, 2010, denied the crime and testified he pushed the victim after he tried to get into the apartment uninvited.

Judge Christine Gagnon convicted Gordon at the conclusion of a one-day trial. Besides the prison term, Gordon also received a 10-year firearms ban and was ordered to provide a sample of his DNA for the RCMP's national data bank.

Gordon filed an appeal on Feb. 10 on several fronts, including concerns over an evidence hearing conducted during the trial, that the judge didn't apply the doctrine of reasonable doubt properly and that the verdict was "unreasonable and unsupported" by the evidence.

A panel of three judges will hear all the cases.

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