Edmonton Journal

Calgary MLA’s legal dispute to go public

Case between Denis and estranged wife moves to open court


CALGARY — The legal dispute between Progressiv­e Conservati­ve candidate Jonathan Denis and his estranged wife Breanna Palmer will move Thursday to a courtroom open to the public.

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Craig Jones approved an applicatio­n by Palmer to have the case heard in open court — though a publicatio­n ban preventing anyone from reporting on the proceeding­s remains in effect.

“There cannot be two standards and there must be equal access to justice for all,” Jones said Wednesday. “The public must be allowed to see that justice is done.”

The legal dispute between Palmer and Denis, who resigned as justice minister and solicitor general last week when the case came to light, had proceeded behind closed doors until Wednesday.

But Palmer brought forth an applicatio­n Wednesday to have the exclusion order lifted, which would allow the public to attend and observe any further hearings related to the case. As a result of Jones’ ruling, a scheduled hearing Thursday will be held in open court.

Lawyer Jeffrey Wise, who is representi­ng Denis, said his client neither opposed nor supported Palmer’s applicatio­n to open the case to the public.

“Mr. Denis wants the court to know we believe in the rule of law and Mr. Denis should be treated like everyone else. In fact, he insists on that,” Wise said. “We’re not taking a position. In fact, we’re leaving it in the hands of the court.”

Wise added the order closing the proceeding­s to the public was imposed in Denis’ absence and wasn’t sought by his client.

Despite the bid to have the courtroom opened to the public, both parties want to maintain a publicatio­n ban preventing anyone in attendance from reporting the details of the proceeding­s. Both sides have agreed to the publicatio­n ban.

Tory Leader Jim Prentice asked Denis to resign his cabinet posts last week after learning of legal proceeding­s between the two-term Calgary MLA and Palmer.

Denis issued a written statement citing “difficulti­es” in his marriage, but the legal proceeding­s have been subject to a publicatio­n ban since the case was initiated with a closeddoor hearing in provincial court last Friday.

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