Court orders new trial for Acadian woman

SYDNEY, NS (28 January 2004) — Nova Scotia's Court of Appeal has ordered a new trial for an Acadian woman because she was not informed of her right to a French trial. She was convicted and fined for speeding almost two years ago.

Nicole MacKenzie was arrested by RCMP in April 2002 for speeding, but did not retain a lawyer when she went before a provincial court judge.

That judge sent her to trial without informing MacKenzie of her right to apply for a French language trial. The court tried her in English, convicted and fined her.

The woman then appealed the decision to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, who ruled that there was a serious breach of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and ordered a stay of proceedings.

The Crown appealed the Supreme Court's decision, sending the stayed case back to the provincial Court of Appeal.

The judges there decided Tuesday that there has been no infringement of MacKenzie's Charter rights, but recognized that the original judge was required to notify the woman of her bilingual rights.

They resolved that the proper remedy was to grant the Acadian woman a new trial in her chosen language.


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