Contempt hearing on courthouse arrest moved to new date
Judge says he’s considering also citing Crown lawyer for contempt of court
A contempt of court hearing for a police officer who arrested a man inside the Iqaluit courthouse on the morning the man was supposed to stand trial on another charge, was put over to a new date.
Iqaluit RCMP Cpl. Andrew Kerstens arrested Robert Joseph Campbell inside the courthouse on July 13 and took him into custody.
Campbell, with two other co-accuseds, was set to stand trial that day on charges of assault causing bodily harm.
When Campbell didn’t show up in front of the judge, Justice Paul Bychok said Kerstens could be found in contempt of court for arresting Campbell. He scheduled the hearing for Aug. 2 to allow Kerstens time to get a lawyer.
Contempt of court is the offence of being disobedient or disrespectful to the court and its processes.
Courts have the power to control their own processes, and punishment for being found in contempt of court could result in fines or in some cases jail time.
On Tuesday, Kerstens, wearing a light-blue dress shirt and tie, sat in the courtroom while his lawyer, Robb Beeman, appeared by video.
Beeman told the court that Kerstens had arrested Campbell that morning for allegedly intimidating a witness.
“It was not his intention in any way to override the direction of the court,” Beeman said of the officer’s actions.
Beeman said Kerstens was helping to locate witnesses for the trial that morning and had been in contact with the Crown lawyer, Emma Baasch.
He said Kerstens and Bassch both understood that morning that Campbell would be arrested as he arrived at the courthouse, for allegedly intimidating a witness.
Beeman also said the Crown had told Kerstens the trial was going to be adjourned that morning because witnesses did not show up.
After hearing that information, Bychok said he was now also considering citing the Bassch for contempt of court.
A new date for the hearing will be scheduled on Aug. 29 at the Iqaluit courthouse, with the Crown lawyer also present.