The future of proceedings against those charged of abusing chickens in 2017 could be decided this afternoon.
An arraignment hearing – where those charged plead innocent or guilty, and opt for trial by judge or jury – was scheduled for July in Chilliwack, but was put over till August 28 in Surrey. Defense counsel requested the change due to questions regarding the integrity of the video footage on which the charges hinge.
However, two deferrals prompted Judge Gary Cohen last month to urge a prompt arraignment. He set a deadline of today, saying either defence would have to make its decision of the kind of trial it wanted, or he would do it for them – stating his preference for judge and jury.
The charges were brought forward by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency against chicken catcher Elite Farm Services Ltd., its president Dwayne Dueck and processor Sofina Foods Inc. The three were charged in December 2018 with 38 counts of unlawfully beating chickens and treating them in a way likely to cause harm.
CFIA declined to comment on the case, as it is before the courts. The BC Chicken Marketing Board pleaded ignorance of the court proceedings, while Sofina Foods Inc. did not respond to requests for comment.