Mike Duffy Senate expenses trial could border on 'circus'

Written By Unknown on Selasa, 07 April 2015 | 21.16

The criminal trial of suspended Senator Mike Duffy will attract hordes of national media, bringing in additional security and more cleaners as the Ottawa courthouse prepares for a 41-day trial.

Longtime Ottawa defence lawyer Ron Guertin says Duffy's trial will be nothing short of a "circus."

"People are phoning me to see how they can get a seat in the courtroom," Guertin said. "It's first come, first serve. It's going to be a show."

Duffy Trial 20150401

When lawyers arrive at the Ottawa courthouse for the long-awaited start of the Mike Duffy trial, they'll be armed with the equivalent of advanced degrees in the rules governing Senate expenses. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Duffy, a former news broadcaster turned Conservative senator, faces 31 charges including fraud, bribery and breach of trust, laid by the RCMP. He is currently suspended from the Red Chamber.

Duffy's trial will take place on the third floor of the Ottawa courthouse, in room number 33, which is located next door to a high-profile murder trial by jury.  

The heightened interest in the Duffy trial has led the court to book a viewing room on the third floor so more people can watch the proceedings over an internal video feed. Canadian courts do not allow broadcasts to the public.

Criminal lawyer Lawrence Greenspon said there is "a lot of anticipation" around the Ottawa courthouse as the Duffy trial begins.

"Overflow rooms and additional security and a great deal of interest, obviously, that goes beyond this courthouse and goes right across the country as to what is going to happen with that trial," Greenspon said.

Ottawa courthouse closed

The Ottawa courthouse will bring in additional police officers for security and more cleaners as the Mike Duffy trial attracts several national media members and members of the public.

"I think that people are well aware that while there is a criminal trial going on, the implications on our political system and the upcoming election are very close at hand."

Duffy's lawyer, Donald Bayne, has previously told reporters the trial will be conducted as a criminal case, not a political one.

"It is going to be conducted professionally," Bayne said last September. "The very strong judiciary in the Ontario court of justice will not allow this case to be turned into a political circus and we certainly don't intend to conduct the matter that way."

The Duffy trial will be conducted in two phases, first from April 7 to May 12, then from June 1 to 19. It will be heard by Ontario Superior Court Judge Charles Vaillancourt.

Follow our live blog from the Mike Duffy trial

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