New trial ordered! NHPPA’s heartfelt congratulations to David and Collet Stephan! In 2016 David and Collet were convicted of failing to provide the necessities of life to their son Ezekiel. Shawn Buckley was their trial counsel and can tell you, that in his opinion, there were significant problems with how the Crown conducted the trial and with some of the Judge’s rulings. For example, the Crown was able to lead repetitive evidence from doctor after doctor to overwhelm the Jury with an atmosphere of danger constructed from their assumptions of how Ezekiel was presenting.
On the other hand, the Stephans were prevented from having a witness who visited with Ezekiel the night before from speaking freely. Similarly the Stephans called the Chief Medical Examiner for the Province of Alberta at the time of Ezekiel’s death. This doctor was prevented from giving her opinion, something that had never happened before on the hundreds of occasions she was an expert witness for the State. She has more than likely not been muzzled since when called to testify for the State.
The Stephans appealed their convictions to the Alberta Court of Appeal. This appeal failed, but one of the Justices dissented. The dissent concerned whether the elements of the offence which had to be proved were properly explained by the Judge to the Jury.
Today, at the Supreme Court of Canada, our top Court held that the Jury was not given a proper explanation. A new trial has been ordered. A new trial is only ordered when it is clear to the Court that the trial was unfair. In short, the Court has found that the charge to the Jury was flawed to the point that the trial was unfair.
This is a significant victory for the Stephans who have been vilified by the media. Indeed, even some of the coverage announcing this victory is continuing to vilify them. Shawn Buckley shares that he had never been involved in a case in which the media coverage has been so misleading.
One of the most positive things that will occur going forward is that the truth will have an opportunity to be heard.
Google David and Collet Stephan to find a recent list of news stories.
Photo taken on May 12, 2018 when David stopped by the Total Health Show in Toronto on his way to Ottawa.