NEWS

Patrick Brazeau lawyer draws hope from Mike Duffy trial

05/01/2015 12:59 EDT | Updated 05/01/2016 05:12 EDT
Patrick Brazeau will have to wait almost another year before having his day in court.

Lawyers for the suspended senator and the Crown prosecutor appeared briefly before a judge in Ottawa on Friday to pick dates for the trial.

Although pretrial motions will get underway at the end of June, witnesses and testimony will only be heard starting March 29, 2016.

Brazeau has opted to be tried by judge alone and his lawyer, Christian Deslauriers, has asked for 12 days of hearings.

Advantage in delay

Deslauriers has indicated he and Brazeau would have preferred to get the trial underway sooner — but he admits there could be an advantage in the delay.

"We may get a judgment in [fellow suspended Senator Mike] Duffy's trial before our trial date," Deslauriers told reporters after Friday's appearance.

The trial against Duffy has been underway for almost a month now, and although the charges and circumstances in the case against each man are different, Deslauriers says there are parallels.

"We aren't going to hide that the definition of primary residence or secondary residence is the main issue at play when it comes to the trial of Mr. Brazeau," he said.

Residency questions

"It's definitely more realistic to think that if a judge was to render a decision (in the Duffy trial) saying the residency issue is unclear," Deslaurier added, "then I don't see how anyone could willfully breach or do something illegal."

Deslaurier and Brazeau have been seen attending a number of the hearings in the Duffy trial and says he has been following it closely.

He says even if there isn't a judgment in that case before Brazeau's gets under way, he intends to use some of the same "cross-examinations and topics" employed by Duffy's defence lawyer, Donald Bayne.

Bayne has spent days at a time with some expert witnesses methodically delving into every nuance of the Senate's rules around residency — and, based on what he's heard, Deslauriers is optimistic for when it comes to his turn.

"I think it becomes clearer and clearer that the Crown will have a hard time proving the intention to defraud."

Brazeau faces only one charge of fraud and breach of trust and it is related to his housing allowance — as opposed to Duffy, who faces 31 charges based on travel and living expense claims and a bribery charge related to his acceptance of more than $91,000 to repay his ineligible expenses.

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