Jury se­lec­tion process be­gins in Lac-Me­gan­tic trial


SHER­BROOKE, Que. — Lawyers be­gan the dif­fi­cult task Mon­day of find­ing 14 ju­rors who are bilin­gual, im­par­tial and with­out any per­sonal con­nec­tion to the 2013 rail dis­as­ter that killed 47 peo­ple in LacMe­gan­tic, Que.

Be­tween 800 and 1,200 prospec­tive ju­rors will be called to court for pos­si­ble se­lec­tion at the trial of three men who have pleaded not guilty to one charge of crim­i­nal neg­li­gence caus­ing the death of 47 peo­ple.

Charles Shear­son, a de­fence lawyer for one of the ac­cused, said the fact the trial is tak­ing place in Sher­brooke, which is not far from Lac-Me­gan­tic, poses chal­lenges.

“Lac-Me­gan­tic is close to (Sher­brooke) so you may have peo­ple who are re­lated to vic­tims,” he said.

“It’s also im­por­tant the can­di­dates have a good (un­der­stand­ing) of English and French be­cause the trial will take up terms that are com­pli­cated and tech­ni­cal to the rail­way in­dus­try. That’s why jury se­lec­tion is tak­ing three weeks.”

The trial is ex­pected to last un­til De­cem­ber.

Some peo­ple asked Mon­day to be ex­empted from serv­ing on the jury be­cause of per­sonal con­nec­tions with vic­tims.

Two prospec­tive ju­rors broke down in tears as they told Su­pe­rior Court Justice Gae­tan Du­mas of their ties to those who died on July 6, 2013, af­ter a run­away train car­ry­ing crude oil de­railed in the Que­bec com­mu­nity and ex­ploded.

Oth­ers cited school, work, loss of in­come and health con­cerns as rea­sons for not be­ing able to sit as ju­rors.

The three ex-rail­way em­ploy­ees who are on trial — train driver Thomas Harding, traf­fic con­troller Richard Labrie and man­ager of train op­er­a­tions Jean De­maitre — were present in the court­room.

Shear­son, one of Harding’s three lawyers, said the de­fence will ar­gue their client’s ac­tions were not crim­i­nal.


Fire from a train ex­plo­sion is seen in Lac-Me­gan­tic, Que., on July 6, 2013.

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