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Justice briefs

Inmate beats fellow prisoner – while on the phone

A man who punched and kicked a fellow inmate at North Slave Correctional Complex was handed a four month sentence last week.

Michael Taylor, 28, was sentenced to 120 days by Judge Bernadette Schmaltz in territorial court Friday after he plead guilty to attacking another inmate on Sept.12, 2017.

Taylor, the court heard, assaulted the victim as he spoke on the phone, yelling “this is what you get when you rat out one of our guys.”

Taylor believed the victim was responsible for getting two other inmates removed from the same “pod,” a section within the correctional facility.

He was placed in isolation following the assault.

The attack, caught on video, left the victim with cuts to his forehead.

Schmaltz expressed concern the act of violence was indicative of Taylor's “institutionalization.”

Before rendering her decision, Schmaltz cited the need to discourage violence among inmates – a type of crime she called “too dangerous for too many people” – and stressed the importance of keeping people behind bars safe.
Schmaltz added she hopes Taylor will get to a point where he “wants to get out.”

Taylor was previously convicted in July 2016 of assault causing bodily harm.

New technology helped identify Keadjuk's remains

“Leading edge technology” in DNA analysis led to the identification of Mary Rose Keadjuk's remains in February, says a spokesperson for the RCMP.

“Technology has advanced over the last 15 years,” Marie York-Condon wrote in an email outlining the many years and tests it took to identity Keadjuk's remains.

The remains – bone fragments found in 2003 near Con Mine – were sent for an initial inspection the same year, followed by a forensic examination in 2005. A year later, the returned results didn't yield any DNA.

After re-submissions for forensic examinations in 2007 and 2016 brought came back negative, NWT Chief Coroner received a referral to the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in 2017, a network that has been “successful in several Canadian historical missing persons investigations,” stated York-Condon.

The ICMP is a multi-faceted organization that works closely with governments and justice institutions to tackle a wide range of issues related to missing persons across the globe, according to its website.

A fragment of bone was then sent to ICMP in Sarajevo, Bosnia in early 2017. Months later, RCMP learned a partial DNA profile had been generated from the fragment.

In mid-2017, police sent comparative DNA samples, with a positive match to Keadjuk being confirmed to the NWT Office of the Chief Coroner earlier this month.

On what the use of this kind of technology means for other open cases in the territory, York-Condon said “each case of unidentified remains is unique.”

The match follows the proposal of a historical case unit, to be housed at the Yellowknife RCMP detachment, that would look exclusively at unresolved cases of murdered and missing people dating back to 1985.

“We are always considering advances in technology related to all investigations involving DNA analysis. The historical case unit will be entirely dedicated to these historic investigations where there is a possibility that the advancements in DNA technology may benefit those investigations,” York-Condon wrote.

The investigation into Keadjuk's disappearance remains active.

Scholarship aims to bring more lawyers North

Aspiring lawyers living in the territory could get a boost in their bid to pass the bar thanks to a scholarship program funded by the NWT Law Foundation.

The foundation – a so-called “interest on lawyers' trust accounts” (IOLTA) organization – was established in 1982 by the GNWT Legislative Assembly as a means of collecting and funneling accumulated monies into public areas that benefit access to justice.

This year, the interest earned on NWT lawyers' trust accounts will be used to fund the scholarships of six would-be lawyers hoping to attend law school in the fall.

“We have the greatest job in law – giving money away to worthy causes and worthy individuals,” Michael Woodward, a veteran government lawyer and NWT Law Foundation board member wrote in an email.

The scholarship hands out $2,000 per year for the three years of law school. If grads return to NWT to article, and stay practicing in the territory for another year, they'd receive $7,000 for each of those two years. Overall, a student could be awarded $20,000.

The scholarships, according to Woodward, stand to make a difference not only in the lives and careers of future law students, but also in the jurisdiction they hail from.

“(Scholarships are) done in the hope that these Northerners will later return home to practice their profession in a jurisdiction that is almost always short of lawyers,” Woodward said.

Grants, geared towards enhancing mediation skills, will also be handed out as part of the foundation's John Bayly QC Memorial fund. Last year, three grants – including one for a pre-law summer program for Indigenous people at the University of Saskatchewan Native Law Centre – were made.

Interested students vying for a scholarship are asked to fill out application forms at: The deadline for grant applications is March 31, while applications for scholarships are required by May 31.

The selection process, made by the board, is expected to take place in June.