The trial for an accused drug dealer will be moving to Kelowna after court proceedings stalled and were extended beyond the initial three-day projection.
Jennifer Montgomery’s trial was initially slated to run from Jan. 10 to 12, but due to some issues that needed to be resolved in voir dires — a trial within a trial to determine whether certain pieces of evidence should be admitted into the trial — the case ran longer than the initial three days.
Montgomery’s case has made some appearances since that initial run, though largely to fix a date for the proceedings.
In an application Wednesday morning, the court heard there was too little time in Penticton’s courthouse, and the trial would need to be moved to Kelowna to accommodate all parties and a timely trial.
Montgomery, whose home was raided in after a search warrant was executed based on an acquaintance’s text messages, searched upon her own arrest for breaches of court orders, is charged with two counts of possession of a controlled substance and one count of possession for the purpose of trafficking.
Defence lawyer Michael Patterson initially attempted to have the trial decided on the merit of the search of Montgomery’s acquaintance’s phone, asserting it required more than a cursory glance to retrieve the text messages, which violated Montgomery’s privacy.
The trial judge, however, dismissed that claim in the voir dire and the trial resumed. Patterson since, however, had success in getting Crown to revoke evidence from a search of Montgomery’s own phone, due to the repeated search after a warrant had expired.
Montgomery’s trial wouldn’t be the first to move to Kelowna — most notably, the trial of Grace and Pier Robotti, the former convicted of the second-degree murder of Roxanne Louie, was moved to Kelowna, with the defence saying Penticton’s courthouse lacked the security for the defendants.
In a recent conversation with the Western News, defence lawyer Michael Welsh said one of the things that would help Penticton’s time-to-trial issues in the provincial court level — improved in 2017 from the year before, but still among the worst in the province — would be more judges for the courthouse, though that referred largely to the provincial courts.
Penticton does not have a full-time B.C. Supreme Court justice, and trial judges typically travel from Kelowna or Vancouver.
Montgomery’s trial is now set for two days in Kelowna on March 27 and 28.