Unreportable incident consumes two days of Coutts trial proceedings

The matter was resolved by the conclusion of Monday’s proceedings, with the jury expected to return to the courtroom on Tuesday for a continuation of the Crown’s presentation of its witnesses and evidence.

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A publication ban covered the entirety of Monday’s proceedings in Chris Carbert’s and Anthony Olienick’s trial in Lethbridge, AB, due to the jury’s absence from the courtroom across the entire day.

Monday's proceedings were essentially exclusively focused on a matter that arose on Friday, the trial’s previous day. The matter arose and began to be addressed by Justice David Labrenz, the prosecutors, and the defence teams on Friday.

Given the jury's absence from the proceedings during which the issue arose on Friday, the issue at hand is covered by a publication ban. After about ninety minutes, the remainder of Friday’s proceedings were conducted in an in-camera session, which prohibits public access to the courtroom, including news media.

In-camera sessions are private and closed to the public.

Proceedings that take place in the absence of the jury are subject to a publication ban that is lifted near the end of the trial when the jurors retire and are sequestered to render verdicts for the charges against the two defendants.

Both Carbert and Olienick are charged with conspiracy to murder, with the Crown alleging that the two conspired to murder police officers. They are also charged with unlawful possession of firearms for a purpose dangerous to the public peace and mischief causing damage over $5,000. Olienick is additionally charged with unlawful possession of an explosive device. Both men pleaded not guilty to all charges against them.

Carbert and Olienick are the two remaining defendants of a group of men dubbed the Coutts Four, which previously included Chris Lysak and Jerry Morin, who were also accused of conspiring to murder law enforcement officers. Lysak and Morin plead guilty to lesser crimes in March and were sentenced to time served in remand.

The charges against Carbert and Olienick stem from their participation in the 2022 Coutts blockade and protest, a peaceful and civilly disobedient demonstration broadly opposed to governmental edicts, orders, and mandates issued as ‘public health” measures, ostensibly to reduce COVID-19 transmission.

On Friday, a man was removed from the Lethbridge Courthouse and arrested for allegedly seeking to manipulate the jury in Carbert's and Olienick's trial after writing a message with chalk on the sidewalk near the jurors' entry to the building.

The message read: "840+ DAYS. LET THE COUTTS BOYS OUT OF JAIL NOW".

The matter was resolved by the conclusion of Monday’s proceedings, with the jury expected to return to the courtroom on Tuesday for a continuation of the Crown’s presentation of its witnesses and evidence.

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