Lack of French-speaking jurors triggers Hugues Latour mistrial
Former Inuvik teacher was to be tried in Yellowknife on sex-related charges
A lack of French-speaking jurors triggered a mistrial Tuesday in the case of a former Inuvik, N.W.T., teacher facing sex-related charges.
Hugues Latour is charged with sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching and trafficking of marijuana.
Latour, who is originally from Quebec, elected to be tried in French. Every Canadian has a right to be tried in either French or English.
Only about eight per cent of Yellowknifers consider themselves to be French speakers, according to Statistics Canada.
Knowing this, the court issued hundreds of summons for jury duty. Latour's lawyer said only 47 potential jurors showed up at court on Monday. The sheriff excused many before the trial date because they don't speak French.
The court only managed to elect two jury members. The jury needed 12 members to proceed.
It's not clear what happens now, but the Crown hopes to have a decision on how it will proceed by the end of the week.
"It's really a question of demographics," Montreal-based criminal defense lawyer Eric Sutton told CBC News on Tuesday. "If according to their census infomation there is reason to believe that they could put together a sufficently large pool of potential jurors who speak French, then I think they may try again."
"[It] would be possible but unlikely … that the Crown would decide to not pursue the charges further," Sutton said. "If there is no practical way that … a Francophone jury [can be] formed in that territorial area, the Crown may request that the trial be moved to another venue," he said.