A 36 year-old man Aboriginal man facing serious assault charges is at the centre of a unique court battle over his right to a mixed jury.
The arguments are being heard in a Regina courtroom.
His lawyer is trying to get the charges stayed saying his clients treaty and constitutional rights are being violated.
Prominent Regina defense lawyer, Bob Hrycan, is mounting the challenge in a case that could have far reaching effects.
36 year-old Stony Lee Cyr is facing charges of aggravated assault and assault with a weapon for an attack against an Aboriginal man on the Pasqua First Nation in 2011.
Hrycan says Treaty Four gives his client the right to a mixed jury:
“If the court determines that our interpretation of the treaty is correct then as a matter of law Mr. Cyr will have the right to be tried by a jury with between four and six Indians on the jury and if in fact that occurs it will be the first time in Canada where that has happened.”
There are two parts to Hrycan’s arguments.
In addition to treaty rights, Hrycan says the current jury system also violates his clients rights under the constitution:
“Our argument is that the jury selection process as it is created now is flawed. It simply does not work. It does not achieve representativeness and is supposed to.”
Prosecutors argue the case has no merit, that there was nothing written in Treaty Four that specifically states the right to a mixed jury.
Crown lawyers also told the court, Hrycan’s arguments are based on a hodge-podge of legal history and nothing more than speculation.
Earlier evidence at the hearing included a survey done by the provincial justice department in 2003.
It found that Aboriginal people are reluctant to serve on juries because of mistrust of the system, fear and community backlash.
Constitutional arguments on the case are expected to wrap up tomorrow.