Scientologists' Trial Unlikely Before Next Fall, Judge Told

Source: Globe and Mail
Date: October 12, 1990

A jury trial for the Church of Scientology and nine of its members on theft charges stemming from a 1983 police raid is unlikely to start before next fall, if ever, a court was told yesterday.

At what was to have been a hearing to set a trial date, Clayton Ruby, a lawyer for the Toronto-based church, said that before a jury is even selected, the courts will have to deal with motions he predicted will require several months.

Mr. Ruby also advised Mr. Justice Michael Moldaver of the Ontario Court's General Division that Jan. 28 has been set as the start of two weeks of hearings on a preliminary issue concerning the long delays in bringing the matter to trial.

The defence motion contends that the delays amount to an infringement of a guarantee in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms of an accused's right "to be tried within a reasonable time."

Mr. Ruby said that if the initial motion should fail, the first matter to be dealt with when the trial is set to commence would be a bid to have the prosecution ruled an abuse of process. A similar application was used to quash theft charges against Global Television's Doug Small in connection with the leaking of a federal budget pamphlet.

Beyond that, defence motions challenging the admissability of evidence would require several months.

Saying he would like to see a trial date set for mid-April in hopes of empanelling a jury by fall, Judge Moldaver ordered the matter adjourned until Oct. 17 to give Mr. Ruby an opportunity to discuss potential trial dates with other defence lawyers.

On Sept. 21, the defendants were committed to trial on 11 counts of theft and breach of trust after a two-year preliminary hearing.

The charges involve the alleged theft of photocopied confidential documents from Ontario government and private offices. The case began with a raid at the church's headquarters on Yonge Street.

( categories: )