October 15, 2021


equality opinion

Edmonton defence lawyer cited for contempt immediately after refusing to use mask in court docket

One of Edmonton’s longest-serving and most revered legal professionals has been cited for contempt of court docket just after refusing to follow a judge’s direct get to put on a mask in her courtroom.

Peter Royal got into a war of words with provincial court docket Decide Marilena Carminati on July 21 at the begin of a 3-working day sexual intercourse assault demo.

In accordance to the formal transcript, Carminati informed Royal he would have to have on a mask. Royal informed the judge he would not:

Royal: I will not have on a mask in the courtroom.

Decide: You will have to don a person. We are not paying 3 days alongside one another in a tiny courtroom in a inadequately ventilated building with counsel not putting on a mask. 

Royal: Well I am not likely to use 1, so what are you going to do about that? 

Judge: Well probably you can communicate to counsel about no matter if you will be held in contempt of court docket … I will adjourn to permit you feel about it.

Royal: I will not intend to abide by your course. We’re more than six ft apart. I’ve been doubly vaccinated. 

Decide: Are you declaring you are free of charge to disobey a ruling of the court or a course of the courtroom if you assume the explanations for it are not fantastic?

Royal: I do. 

Royal, who has been practising legislation for almost 50 % a century, informed Carminati he wears a mask within the courthouse and when he enters the courtroom, but normally takes it off at the time he sits at the defence table. 

“Each individual choose in this courthouse has never ever directed me to wear a mask as soon as I am forward of the bar,” Royal stated, in accordance to the transcript. “My comprehension from Choose [Steven] Bilodeau was when you’re forward of the bar, you have the right to continue being maskless.” 

Carminati adjourned for a couple of hours to give Royal time to make written submissions.

“You are placing the courtroom in a very hard placement, Mr. Royal,” Carminati explained, according to the transcript. “You are senior counsel, you are properly revered, but you deliver the administration of justice into disrepute when you blatantly disregard a route from the court docket with no offering any kind of reason or justification for undertaking so.”

Limited public courthouse access 

In mid-June, the provincial court docket issued a practice directive outlining methods for a return to in-man or woman hearings for criminal situations through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“These actions are created to little by little resume the harmless operation of the court,” the directive mentioned. “All protection measures — masking, physical length, capacity limits and plexiglass stay in place.”

When Royal appeared in advance of Carminati once again later the similar day, nonetheless without a mask, he argued that the court’s pandemic observe directives experienced unfairly and illegally restricted public obtain to the courthouse. 

“In the absence of public accessibility to the courthouse, these directives are just missing in constitutional merit,” Royal claimed. “They all should have to be disregarded, in my respectful submission.”

Crown prosecutor Kevin Komosky pointed out that the mask debate had stalled the sexual assault demo, which had previously been adjourned a few situations.

Carminati then purchased Royal to wear his mask “so that we can start out this demo,” the transcript exhibits:

Royal: And I’m not likely to. And, Your Honour, I have to say I was surprised that you took this placement. No other choose in this court docket has taken the place you’re having, none. 

Choose: I have requested if there is any compelling purpose for you not to wear the mask. You have furnished me only with disrespect.

Carminati stated she would purchase a transcript and present it to the main choose for him to make your mind up no matter if it need to be shared with the Regulation Culture of Alberta.

Royal declined comment for this tale. The legislation culture and the court’s media spokesperson also declined remark, as did Justice Minister Kaycee Madu’s press secretary and the president of the Legal Demo Lawyers’ Association. 

Royal’s contempt of courtroom quotation listening to is established for Sept. 9, making use of an out-of-town decide and Crown prosecutor.

Underneath Alberta’s guidelines of court, a person identified in civil contempt of court could confront up to two many years in jail and/or a great.