LEGAL VICTORY: Charges dropped against NB pastor after TDF’s lawyer files Charter Challenge

Multiple charges have been dropped against Pastor Phillip James Hutchings of His Tabernacle Family Church.

SAINT JOHN: Crown Prosecutors have dropped all charges against Pastor Phillip James Hutchings and Church Director Keith Douglas Cody Butler of His Tabernacle Family Church in Saint John, New Brunswick. Pastor Hutchings was charged with obstruction and breaching public health orders for holding church services without ensuring that all participants were vaccinated against COVID-19.

The charges were dropped on November 17, 2022, after The Democracy Fund (TDF)-funded lawyer Jonathan Martin filed a constitutional challenge earlier this year, arguing that the public health orders were inconsistent with fundamental freedoms and privacy rights as protected by the Charter.  

Religious freedom is essential for many Canadians, and courts have recognized that it is a right that should not be infringed lightly.

TDF continues working with Jonathan Martin to defend Pastor Hutchings against contempt charges arising from allegations that he unlawfully held church services in an indoor public space back in November 2021. The New Brunswick Court of Appeal has already sided with Jonathan Martin in unanimously finding that comments made by the judge originally hearing the contempt motion gave rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias. The appellate court specifically found that the judge stated the outcome of a determinative issue without providing the parties with an opportunity to be heard. A hearing from summary dismissal of the contempt charge is scheduled for December 20, 2022.

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About The Democracy Fund:

Founded in 2021, The Democracy Fund (TDF) is a Canadian charity dedicated to constitutional rights, advancing education and relieving poverty. TDF promotes constitutional rights through litigation and public education. TDF supports an access to justice initiative for Canadians whose civil liberties have been infringed by government lockdowns and other public policy responses to the pandemic.