The Court of Appeal Judge agrees that the church and pastor raised issues of sufficient importance to justify an appellate review.
EDMONTON: Pastor Tracey Fortin and Church in the Vine have achieved a small but critical legal victory this week in their ongoing battle to overturn obstruction convictions for refusing to allow a COVID-19 health inspection to take place during a religious service.
Justice Frans Slatter of the Court of Appeal of Alberta released a decision earlier this week in which he acknowledges that Fortin and Church in the Vine have raised a question of law that is sufficiently important to justify review by a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeal.
The pastor and the church were convicted of breaching the Public Health Act and cumulatively fined more than $80,000 after allegedly refusing to allow a public health inspection to occur during a religious service. They unsuccessfully appealed to the Alberta Court of King's Bench before the highest court in Alberta granted them leave to appeal their conviction this week.
The Democracy Fund (TDF) hired James Kitchen to bring the leave application on behalf of Fortin and the church. TDF has now retained Kitchen to argue the appeal, which is expected to turn on whether the trial judge erred in summarily dismissing the appellants' Charter application without hearing evidence.
Justice Slatter did not agree with Kitchen that Fortin and the church raised an issue of sufficient importance to justify a separate appeal of their $80,000 plus sentence. However, should Kitchen and the church succeed in overturning the conviction, the sentences will be vacated.
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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.