A B.C. Supreme Court Justice’s mental faculties were put under question on Monday by a Chilliwack man convicted of sexual interference with an underage female.
David Kuntz-Angel was scheduled for a sentencing hearing following his conviction in August on two counts of sexual interference, two counts of invitation to sexual touching, one count each of assault and uttering threats.
Instead of a sentencing hearing, however, defence counsel Chantal Paquette advised the court she was asking the court to consider a mistrial, citing questions over the mental health of Justice Neill Brown who convicted Kuntz-Angel after a 20-day trial.
Justice Brown was not in court on Monday, instead the case was being heard by Justice Dev Dley out of Kamloops. His status is unclear and an emailed request for information to the Supreme Court’s communications officer was not immediately responded to.
“We do need to inquire about how to get information as to why Justice Brown was replaced and I make those inquires because observations throughout the course of the trial have raised, in my view, legitimate concerns about the mental faculties of Justice Brown and that they may have been impaired and they may have impaired his ability to preside over the trial,” Paquette told the court.
Crown counsel Michelle Wray responded firstly that this was a “very uncommon” application, adding that her office had only been served with notice on Thursday so did not have a strong position.
Wray did say that Crown had not made similar observations in the trial regarding Brown’s mental faculties, something that was not addressed by any parties during the trial or by those in the gallery.
“We do not support [the] allegations that Justice Brown was suffering from mental impairment in the trial,” Wray said, adding that the Crown also did not support Paquette’s request to get personal information about Justice Brown’s health, or to inquire why he is no longer presiding over the case.
“I have some concerns this is an appeal masquerading as a mistrial application,” Wray said.
Kuntz-Angel faced 12 charges in total during the trial that involved his grooming the complainant from the age of eight to 19 when she complained to police. Justice Brown acquitted him of sexual exploitation, sexual assault, assault causing bodily harm, and one count of procuring. But he convicted Kuntz-Angel of the most serious charges.
Going by David Kuntz-Angel in the court system, the 54-year-old has too many aliases to list, not least of which is David Lee Roth, the former lead singer of American rock band Van Halen, whom he has pretended to be in numerous situations over the last 20 years from Ontario to Chilliwack.
Kuntz-Angel was accused of grooming the complainant from the age of eight to 19 when she complained to police. A number of witnesses were called who testified to seeing the couple in highly inappropriate situations. The complainant herself spent considerable time on the stand in often uncomfortable circumstances.
At the end of trial, Justice Brown found the victim’s testimony to be credible and he credited her summoning the courage to testify. Kuntz-Angel, however, was found to be “obsequious” at times and “condescending” at others.
After the brief submissions on the mistrial application in court on Nov. 18, Justice Dley said he would make no immediate decisions, rather he ordered the Crown and defence to see if they could resolve matters. If not, the next step would move forward with the mistrial application, a somewhat unique situation that may prove precedent-setting in the courts.
Given Paquette’s submission that she observed behaviour in the trial that questioned Justice Brown’s mental faculties, she pointed out that she might have to be a witness at a mistrial hearing meaning she would have to step down as defence counsel.
Justice Dley laid out the consequences of a mistrial hearing, which he pointed out should be apparent to everyone. First of all, if a mistrial was declared, the entire proceedings would have to be commenced again.
He also pointed out that Kuntz-Angel is in jeopardy for all the original charges again, even those for which he was found not guilty, and for the Crown it means presentation of all evidence again.
“And that is always difficult for a victim, to relive the events that form the basis for these charges,” Dley said.
See www.theprogress.com for more on this story, including updates on when the file will be back in court.