Nunavut lawyers contest Pond inlet man’s sentence
Criticism of joint sentence “unwarranted,” lawyers tell appeals court
Following a hearing at the Nunavut Court of Justice this week, a Nunavut appeals judge will decide on an appeal from lawyers who contest a Pond Inlet man’s seven-month sentence for breaking and entering.
That’s after lawyers from the Nunavut bar described Nunavut Justice Paul Bychok’s March 2018 judgment against Lanny Kippomee “flawed” in how it treated both the convicted man and the lawyers involved.
“This case presents a deeply flawed sentencing hearing, featuring pre-judgment of the case and unwarranted criticism of counsel,” defence lawyer Scott Cowan said on Tuesday, Feb. 12, during submissions to the appeals judge.
“I ask you to adjust his sentence and place it in accordance with the joint submission presented.”
Kippomee, a repeat offender, pleaded guilty to charges related to breaking into an office owned by the community co-op in December 2017.
During a Pond Inlet circuit court hearing, Crown and defence lawyers jointly proposed a jail sentence of one month.
But Bychok rejected that plea bargain and also rejected a second proposed sentence of two months.
He called the sentence “a slap on the wrist” and said lawyers “failed to do their due diligence.” Bychok suggested that the joint submission would look like an attempt by lawyers to “clear the docket.”
He imposed his own seven-month sentence for the break-and-enter charge and for a breach of probation. Seven months is not an uncommon sentence for these types of offences, and Kippomee has previously been sentenced to 18 months for offences that include a break-and-enter conviction.
But lawyers told the appeals judge that Bychok’s judgment relies on errors, and, reproached the long-time Nunavut judge for turning his decision into a “personalized attack” on seasoned lawyers of the Nunavut bar.
Crown lawyer Nick Devlin called media reports that followed “false news generated by this judgment.”
Devlin says the judgment assumes the break-and-enter took place at the co-op grocery store, while the offence actually happened in a separate building owned by the community cooperative.
Kippomee was found hiding in a closet of an office. Nothing was damaged or stolen.
Because damage to a Nunavut co-op is viewed as an offence against the whole community, the distinction between the two buildings in significant, Devlin said.
Bychok’s judgment also refers to stolen keys used to break into the office. Devlin said he could not find any reference to keys in the Crown’s evidence.
Cowan questioned Bychok’s use of sobriety as an aggravating factor in the break-and-enter.
The message of “it would have been better if you were drunk,” sets a dangerous precedent and contradicts many other judgments in Nunavut, said Cowan, who called sobriety a “neutral factor.”
Cowan also challenged Bychok’s rejection, during circuit court, of the joint submission prior to hearing submissions from both defence and Crown lawyers.
“This is important for Nunavut. This is important for counsel on circuit,” Cowan said. “I’m asking you to fix it.”
Kippomee is in custody for other charges and is awaiting consideration for bail.