Tuesday, September 11, 2001
SASKATOON -- An all-white jury was picked
yesterday to try two police officers accused of dumping an aboriginal man on the
outskirts of the city in freezing winter weather.
"There's no aboriginal people there at all, not one," said Loretta Wilson, an
aboriginal woman who was among the pool from which the jury was chosen.
"This process, it wasn't fair. It wasn't fair at all."
Ms. Wilson said she would have liked to see six aboriginals on the 12-member
"I was willing to be fair if I had been picked, listened to the evidence and
everything," she said.
But lawyers for the accused officers said the jury selection process was
"I think we picked a jury that will listen to the case and render a fair and
just verdict," defence lawyer Bill Roe said.
"I have great faith in the jury system. I think that juries are fair and that
they do the right thing and I think this jury falls into that category. The age,
race and background [of members] doesn't matter."
Dan Hatchen and Ken Munson, both veteran Saskatoon city police officers, are
charged with assault and unlawful confinement.
They were charged after Darrell Night alleged two officers apprehended him
without cause and later forced him out of their cruiser near an outlying power
station on Jan. 28, 2000, when the temperature dipped to -25.
Sitting within arm's reach of the accused, prospective jurors were asked five
questions regarding what they had heard about the case and what influence race
might have upon them.
"Would your ability to judge the evidence in this case without bias,
prejudice or partiality be affected by the fact that the persons charged are
white and the complainant is aboriginal?" Mr. Justice Eugene Scheibel of Court
of Queen's Bench asked each prospective juror.
Judge Scheibel also queried all 29 of the people who came before him about
whether they had formed any opinions about the accused because of news
Seven men and five women were chosen.
Two alternates were also picked for the trial, which is scheduled to begin
The officers had asked the judge to move the trial from Saskatoon because of
intense media scrutiny of the case, but the judge refused.
Morris Bodnar, Mr. Munson's lawyer, defended the selection of an all-white
jury from the more than 100 people selected for the jury panel.
"The jury panel is selected by the sheriff's office," Mr. Bodnar said.
No representative of the Crown was available for comment.
The case has strained relations between the police and Saskatchewan's
A court appearance by the two officers last year garnered national attention
when angry spectators got in a shouting match about racism outside the