Just as the trial of a New Brunswick man accused of assaulting two nurses at a hospital in Moncton was expected to continue Thursday, it came to an abrupt halt after the defence lawyer suggested he could be seeking a mistrial.
Bruce Randolph (Randy) Van Horlick, 70, of Acadieville, has entered not guilty pleas to two counts of assault causing bodily harm, both of which are alleged to have occurred on March 11, 2019 at the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre.
More than three weeks after the trial started, the case was expected to continue in Moncton provincial court Thursday.
Crown prosecutor Marie-Andrée Mallet started the hearing by calling the family doctor for Natasha Poirier, one of the two complainants, to the witness stand.
But before Dr. Manon LeRoux’s testimony, Mallet put on the record that the presiding judge, Yvette Finn, had previously represented LeRoux about 25 years ago during her time as a lawyer pertaining to a “marriage contract.”
After the court took a break for Mallet and Nathan Gorham, Van Horlick’s lawyer, to discuss the issue, Gorham came back to court and said “I think what I’m going to ask for is a mistrial.”
Gorham explained that after just learning of that relationship, he had concerns over a potential judgment or ruling on the credibility and reliability of the witness (LeRoux).
“Crown counsel is going to attempt to prove through this witness that the alleged victim actually suffered a concussion,” Gorham told the court. “Then she’s going to say the concussion establishes bodily harm.”
He said solicitor-client privileged prevented him from further inquiring about the relationship between the judge and the witness, but based on what he knew, he raised concerns.
“I’m not impugning your honour’s integrity or impartiality,” Gorham said. “But the problem here is… This witness is your former client and you have duties that survive the end of the lawyer-client relationship that continues in perpetuity.”
After lengthy discussion between the Crown, defence lawyer, and the judge, the case was eventually set over to March 13 for a status hearing, which will give time for Gorham to clearly present his argument.
Gorham declined to comment on the case outside of court.
Although the defence has yet to formally present its case, Gorham suggested Van Horlick blacked out during the alleged attack during day one of the trial, which took place Feb. 3.
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