LETHBRIDGE, AB — David and Collet Stephan have failed to submit two applications for court-ordered legal aid.
Appearing via telephone from their new home near Grande Prairie, David Stephan told the court he was initially optimistic he and his wife could have the applications completed, however because of several delays, they couldn’t manage it.
“Well, I gave you two weeks from our last date…they were to have been filed two weeks after Nov. 8. So that takes us… so they were to be filed a week ago,” said Madame Justice Elizabeth Hughes.
Stephan told Justice Hughes he misunderstood, and that he believed the couple had three weeks to file. Delays during the moving process prevented them from doing so.
“If it’s a must… [inaudible]…we can quickly rush that and get them in today. So, I’m also lacking in the information necessary to file,” said David.
“Well, what have you done to learn how to file the applications, if anything?” asked Justice Hughes.
David Stephan told the court they had been relying on a retired lawyer to help them with the process, however he had become ill recently, had an operation Wednesday, and was released from medical care Thursday. He believed during the next few days the lawyer could work with the couple to help them get their applications in.
“You understand you’re delaying the process, Mr. Stephan and Mrs. Stephan,” said Justice Hughes.
Stephan told the judge that was not their intent.
“Put it this way, it’s not ‘can you?’ You’re going to have it filed by Tuesday of next week,” cautioned the judge.
On the matter of disclosure, Justice Hughes told the Stephans the documents were ready to be picked up in Lethbridge, however she questioned how the couple would be able to retrieve it, given they had moved so far away.
David Stephan told her that a family member would pick up the necessary documents and send a digitized copy to them.
The couple is due back in court Thursday, Dec. 5 for a possible decision on their Rowbotham (court ordered legal aid) and Fisher (court appoints a specific lawyer to a case, for a specific reason) applications. During a previous court appearance, the couple told the court they had to liquidate most of their assets and were indebted to previous counsel.
David and Collet Stephan were found guilty in 2016 of failing to provide the necessaries of life, in the death of their 19-month old son Ezekiel. A new trial was ordered for the pair in June 2019, after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled the original trial judge did not properly instruct jurors “in a way that the jury could understand."
Ezekiel died of meningitis in 2012.
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