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CANADIAN SUPREME COURT WILL HEAR CASE ABOUT BILINGUAL TRIAL

CANADIAN SUPREME COURT WILL HEAR CASE ABOUT BILINGUAL TRIAL

OTTAWA (AP) _ CANADA’S SUPREME COURT AGREED THURSDAY TO HEAR THE CASE OF A FRANCOPHONE MAN WHO WAS TRIED IN ENGLISH THREE TIMES FOR FIRST-DEGREE MURDER BUT ARGUES HIS TRIALS SHOULD HAVE BEEN BILINGUAL.
JEAN VICTOR BEAULAC WAS BORN IN QUEBEC AND WAS RAISED SPEAKING FRENCH. HE MOVED TO BRITISH COLUMBIA IN 1977 WHEN HE WAS 17 AND LEARNED ENGLISH.
HE HAS A LENGTHY CRIMINAL RECORD IN BRITISH COLUMBIA AND NEVER USED A FRENCH INTERPRETER IN COURT.
HIS 1989 PRELIMINARY HEARING ON A CHARGE OF MURDERING MARY ANNE COSTIN IN 1981 WAS IN ENGLISH, HIS LAWYER WAS A UNILINGUAL ANGLOPHONE AND BEAULAC DID NOT ASK FOR AN INTERPRETER.
BUT FIVE DAYS AFTER HIS MURDER TRIAL STARTED IN 1990, BEAULAC ASKED FOR A BILINGUAL JURY, ARGUING HE IS NOT AS FLUENT IN ENGLISH AS HE IS IN FRENCH AND HE WAS WORRIED THE PERSUASIVENESS OF SOME OF HIS ARGUMENTS WOULD BE LOST.
THE REQUEST WAS DENIED. A JUDGE CONCLUDED BEAULAC’S ENGLISH, THOUGH NOT ELEGANT, WAS SUFFICIENT TO GET HIS MESSAGE ACROSS CLEARLY. THE JUDGE ALSO RULED THAT ORGANIZING A BILINGUAL TRIAL WOULD DELAY JUSTICE FOR TOO LONG.
BEAULAC TESTIFIED IN ENGLISH AT THE TRIAL, WHICH RESULTED IN A MISTRIAL.
HE ASKED THAT BOTH THE JUDGE AND JURY BE BILINGUAL AT HIS NEXT TRIAL. THE REQUEST WAS AGAIN DENIED.
HE WAS CONVICTED AT THE SECOND TRIAL, BUT THE CONVICTION WAS OVERTURNED ON APPEAL AND A NEW TRIAL WAS ORDERED.
HE ONCE AGAIN APPLIED FOR A BILINGUAL TRIAL AND HIS REQUEST WAS AGAIN REJECTED.
HE WAS CONVICTED OF FIRST-DEGREE MURDER IN 1995 AT THE THIRD TRIAL. THE CONVICTION WAS UPHELD ON APPEAL.
07 MAY 98

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