Reaction Mixed To Sentencing Circle Decision

Thursday, January 08, 2009 at 14:57



Saskatchewan Justice Minister Frank Morgan says the public should realize Christopher Pauchay could still wind up with a jail sentence.


Yesterday, a judge granted a request by the Yellow Quill First Nation man for an Aboriginal sentencing circle.


Pauchay pleaded guilty to criminal negligence causing death in November related to the freezing deaths of his two young daughters last winter.


Morgan acknowledges it is rare for an elected official to comment on matters before the court.


But he says he did so because he wants everyone to be clear on how the process works.


Morgan says he finds it troubling that an individual with Pauchay’s record would not receive a penitentiary sentence.


A law professor at the University of Saskatchewan says he agrees with a lot of what the judge had to say in his decision to approve the sentencing circle request.


Tim Quigley notes the judge looked at other cases to see where sentencing circles were considered before coming to his own conclusion.


Quigley says penitentiary time isn’t a given in this case, so the judge isn’t bound by any precedents.


He also believes the sentencing circle could be more difficult for Pauchay to experience than the traditional court process.


Quigley adds the judge’s decision not to hold the sentencing circle on the reserve was likely due to concerns over logistics.


The chief of the Yellow Quill First Nation says it is somewhat disappointing the sentencing circle won’t be taking place on the reserve.


Larry Cochene says the tragedy has been tough on everyone and it would have been nice to keep it close to home.


He says, by having it off-reserve, “the comfort level is not going to be there” for band members.


The chief also says it would be good if the setting for the sentencing circle could be structured to keep media from mobbing the family whenever they arrive or leave.


The chief says more needs to be said about the positive work the band is doing to prevent similar tragedies in the future.


He says Yellow Quill plans to meet with funding partners next week to discuss plans to build a nearby healing centre.


As well, he plans to meet with Indian Affairs this week to discuss ways of moving ahead economically.