VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) - A polygamous religious leader in rural Bountiful, British Columbia wants criminal charges against him thrown out, claiming the government needed three special prosecutors to charge him, after one declined to prosecute and another's decision to prosecute was quashed by the court.
Winston Kaye Blackmore claims in B.C. Supreme Court that back in 2006, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police reported to prosecutors on a lengthy police investigation about "possible misconduct" going on in the small town populated by members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
The Crown declined to prosecute.
British Columbia's Attorney General then appointed a special prosecutor to conduct a "charge assessment." He also declined to lay charges, citing constitutional uncertainty surrounding the country's criminal ban on polygamy.
While that ban was later upheld , the special prosecutor's decision was to be "final," according to the legislation under which he was appointed.
However, that didn't stop the attorney general from appointing another special prosecutor, who approved charges against Blackmore in January 2009. That decision was quashed by the court because the government had no jurisdiction to appoint a second special prosecutor.
After the polygamy ban was upheld, the government appointed yet another special prosecutor, who approved charges against Blackmore in August 2014.
Blackmore claims that even though Canada's criminal ban on polygamy was upheld, the reference case is not the "authoritative decision" on the issue and "does not provide fair notice to the petitioner and the members of the Bountiful community as to how their alleged practice of polygamy should end."
Blackmore is represented by Joseph Arvay and Alison Latimer with Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy, in Vancouver.