Termination of proceedings: ex-judge Jacques Delisle is free

Jacques Delisle is free. The 86-year-old ex-judge will not have to face a second trial for the murder of his wife because of the “unacceptable negligence” of a state expert on the record, which deprives him of “evidence highly relevant”.

• Read also: The fate of ex-judge Jacques Delisle known no later than April 8

Judge Jean-François Émond granted the motion for a stay of proceedings in the case of former judge Jacques Delisle on Friday morning, thus ending a legal saga of more than a decade.

The emotion was strong, while the octogenarian – who spent nine years of his life in prison – welcomed the news alongside his children and his son-in-law, installed in the largest room of the courthouse in Quebec.

Unable to hold back their tears, Jean and Élène Delisle embraced their father, who briefly seemed overwhelmed by the events. The troupe then quickly left the scene, without granting an interview.

“The procedures are over, that’s what matters. At 86, for more than 10 years, it had to stop, “commented the defense lawyer, Mr.and Maxime Roy, who believes that this judgment is “unassailable on appeal”.

In a 99-page decision, Judge Jean-François Émond thus agreed with the arguments of the defense, which considered that the errors of the Crown’s experts had deprived Jacques Delisle of a full and complete defense.

Judge Émond concludes that pathologist André Bourgault, of the Laboratory of Forensic Sciences and Forensic Medicine, in Montreal, “failed in his obligation to preserve and document the evidence”.

At the time of the autopsy of the deceased, he would have failed to collect, preserve, document and photograph the sections of the brain, in addition to having neglected to take samples from the brain which bore the traces of the passage of the projectile.

This “highly relevant evidence” could have had an impact on the trajectory of the angle of fire. Moreover, the angle of fire is at the heart of the defense’s suicide theory. However, this evidence has been “lost forever”.

“No directive can remedy the absence of this material evidence which should and could have been easily collected, preserved and documented”, retains Judge Émond.

End of a long saga

It is therefore the end of a long legal saga of more than a decade for the ex-judge, who was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for 25 years, in 2012.

In April 2021, however, the federal Minister of Justice ordered a new trial, saying he was convinced that a possible miscarriage of justice had occurred. He then regained his parole, after nine years behind bars.

“Several people probably have a firm opinion on the file, in some cases not very favorable to the applicant. This is not surprising. The petitioner was judged by his peers and failed in his appeal of the guilty verdict before the Court of Appeal,” wrote Justice Émond.

“However, restraint must continue to prevail. The reason is very simple. The verdict pronounced in 2012 no longer holds,” he adds.

Justice Émond recalled that in 20 years, barely twenty cases of this kind have been received by the federal Minister of Justice. All of these cases, with the exception of one, led to a stay of proceedings or an acquittal without a new trial.

Of note, M.and Jacques Larochelle, who has represented ex-judge Delisle since the beginning of this saga, was conspicuous by his absence. He was informed of this judgment and said he was happy about it, reported Mr.and Max Roy.

In a very brief press briefing, the Crown said it would read the judgment before deciding whether to appeal the case or not.

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