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 an Iqaluit RCMP officer will be scheduled for a new date on Aug. 29 and may also scrutinize the actions of a Crown lawyer. (File photo)

By Nunatsiaq News

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.

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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.



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(18) Comments:

  1. Posted by Honestly on

    The Inuit have to wait months in the justice system and these 2 white people are dealt with swiftly talk about privilege

    • Posted by Unmuted on

      You know their date was moved right? That’s the story here.

      Which is also to say, they are not being “dealt with swiftly”

      If you read the story, you might have picked all that up. Being competent isn’t just privilege, you need to do the work sometimes.

    • Posted by Getting Priorities Straight on

      A hearing is not a trial.

      More importantly, when it appears that our policing and justice services have become a law unto themselves they need to be swiftly and publicly put in their proper place.

      Rogues and contemptuous street cops and/or prosecutors are a threat to all – far more than some low-level thug.

    • Posted by Honestly lol on

      The idea that white people get any benefit in court shows how naive one can be. Do you not know the courts have adopted special rules under a case called Gladue that essentially see aboriginal offenders given leniency? Practice law five minutes in Nunavut and you’d know that the same domestic assault fact pattern in Nunavut results in conditional discharges, while in the south it’s a criminal record and two years probation.

  2. Posted by Arctic Wolf on

    The last article (which cited the court recording) said the officer told the judge that he consulted with the Crown before making the arrest. So, he knew the Crown had some role in the decision. Perhaps if instead of throwing a temper tantrum he had bothered to ask the Crown about it at that time, everything could have been sorted out already. I guess it’s better to make everybody feel as bad as possible and keep it hanging over their heads forever. Truly, truly disappointing.

    • Posted by Yank that Leash on

      No, this is a great thing.

      The RCMP in Nunavut get far too used to being big fish in a very small pond. It is good that someone yanks their leash from time to time.

  3. Posted by Bychucked on

    This guy lost most credibility before saying somehow the precedent of the Supreme Court of Canada doesn’t apply in Nunavut, now here goes the last of it. Has the even looked at what constitutes contempt of court? I doubt it, this is all off the cuff, he doesn’t know better since judges in Nunavut spend about five minutes a year doing civil law. Hopefully both prosecutor and police and their bosses have launched complaints to the judiciary over this farce.

  4. Posted by John W Paul Murphy on

    Gotta luv those anonymous keyboard legal experts here.. Always good for a laugh .
    Temper tantrum hahaha. definition of contempt of court hahaha.
    Neither of you two could come close to this Judge’s experience and knowledge of the law.

    • Posted by Experienced on

      Yes Paul you’re well suited to comment how experienced a prosecutor fr the south who came up here and became a judge on criminal law must know more about civil contempt of court than anyone else. I attend court enough and the Nunavut judiciary can barely tie it’s shoes on things in child support or basic civil procedure. It’s like handholding a toddler being paid 300 grand lol

      • Posted by John W Paul Murphy on

        He says anonymously! Another laugh before I go to bed. Have a good sleep.

        • Posted by How it looks from here on

          The standard response from Paul Murphy when any kind of criticism comes his way is to falsely suggest that anonymity equals validity. Of course, the reality is people use anonymity for a variety of reasons that we all understand, mostly because we perceive the social costs of using our real names to be high. If you work for the GN, for example, there is an explicit policy against public commentary on social media (how that is interpreted might be uncertain, but who wants to bother testing those limits?). For someone like Paul, by contrast, using a real name is easy, because there are no costs and little risk involved for doing so. Paul is retired and so it is easy for him to come here and rattle out whatever thoughts pop into his mind, with little reflection as so often seems to be the case. Similarly, an inability to see the larger picture also paves the path to quick and reactive comments that show very little evidence of circumspection.

          • Posted by Maq-Pat on

            While I take your general point, if there is an “explicit policy”? I wouldn’t mind a direct reference. Thanks.

  5. Posted by Make Iqaluit Great Again on

    It’s interesting that, whenever I see a court case reported in Nunatsiaq News that’s newsworthy because there’s conflict between a judge and the lawyers, or a judge is going after the lawyers/police etc, it’s always a case involving Justice Bychok. Why is it that the other judges never seem to have these problems with the lawyers, police and other justice participants that Justice Bychok has?? Is it because all of the other judges are either a) Lucky or b) just letting slide all of the terrible things that the lawyers, police and others are doing in the courtroom??

    I don’t believe in luck or coincidence, or that all of the other judges (both local and visitors) are just overlooking all of these bad things that the lawyers are doing with their cases that should be called out. No, I don’t believe that for a minute. So, I can’t help but wonder: What is really going on here??

    • Posted by This Is What Is Happening on

      What’s going on here is that Bychok is behaving as a justice should and is not part of the incestous little cabal here in Nunavut.

      • Posted by Make Iqaluit Great Again on

        Many visiting judges have come from all across Canada to hold court in Nunavut over the last twenty years. I have never heard any media accounts of any of them having any of these problems a Justice Bychok has. These judges come from a thousand miles away and aren’t part of some local “cabal”. How do you figure that out?

        • Posted by Maq-Pat on

          Systems NEED insiders who challenge the status quo. Lightstone or the late Joe Enook in the House, why not Bychok on the Bench? To your other point, visiting Justices are not in a good position to do anything but hold course.

          • Posted by Lightweight on

            Surely you could have picked someone more effective than Lightstone for your example?

  6. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    A person is to appear before the judge, and is arrested in the courthouse before they can appear. Judge is upset that the RCMP trampled on their authority.

    RCMP could have waited until after the person appeared before the judge.

    You do not upset a judge in their courtroom. Every police officer and lawyer know this simple fact. Obviously some have to be reminded of it and that is what the judge is doing.


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