New Brunswick

Conflict of interest trial slowed by judges' possible conflict of interest

The trial of Ronnie Duguay, mayor of Beaubassin East, begins in earnest on Tuesday after two judges recuse themselves because of a possible conflict of interest during the first day of proceedings.

Third times a charm: two judges recused at Beaubassin East mayor's conflict of interest trial

Ronnie Duguay, mayor of Beaubassin East, is on trial for breaking the municipalities act. He is accused of attending meetings, while a Beaubassin East Councillor when he should have recused himself for a conflict of interest. (Pierre Richard/CBC)

The trial of Ronnie Duguay, mayor of Beaubassin East, is expected to begin in earnest Tuesday after two judges recused themselves because of a possible conflict of interest during the first day of proceedings.

Duguay pleaded not guilty in May of 2018 to two charges of failing to disclose a conflict of interest and failing to leave a meeting room while a matter was being considered, contrary to and in violation of the Municipalities Act.

Duguay was a Beaubassin East municipal councillor at the time of the alleged infractions. The meetings in question happened on Feb. 22 2016, then again on March 14, 2016. 

A trial was scheduled to begin Monday morning, but Judge Pierre Arsenault began the proceedings by withdrawing from the trial.

"I realized that my former assistant sat on the municipal council," he said.

"There is the appearance of a conflict of interest." 

After a brief adjournment, Judge Luc Labonté entered the court to preside over the trial, but he too said he could have a possible conflict of interest.

Judge Labonté did not offer any details as to what the conflict might be. He transferred the case to yet another judge, Yvette Finn.

Third times a charm

Finn started the afternoon proceedings by telling the lawyers that both sides would be starting from zero.

Luc Roy, one of Duguay's defence lawyers addressed the judge, telling her the good news was that so far there was no conflict of interest. The bad news was that he was asking for an adjournment until Tuesday morning.

Roy told the judge he needed to check with the crown, to see if any new information had arisen about the trial.

Judge Finn granted the request.

A long investigation

The RCMP took almost two years to lay the charges under section 90.9 of the Municipalities Act.

At the time, the RCMP said the investigation was so long because charges laid under the Municipalities Act are unusual, and lawyers and experts had to be contacted.

The RCMP would not give specifics as to what caused the conflict of interest.

The crown plans to call five witnesses. The trial is expected to last two days.

 

About the Author

Tori Weldon

Reporter

Tori Weldon is a reporter based in Moncton. She's been working for the CBC since 2008.