A city man who pleaded guilty to a violent crime reversed his plea to not guilty at Grand Forks Provincial Court Tuesday, Feb. 9. The judge who allowed the reversal has recused himself from the man’s trial, set to begin in Grand Forks this spring.
Joshua Johnstone, 37, is charged with two counts of assault with a weapon, alleged to have occurred in Greenwood in December 2018. He pleaded not guilty to the first count in October 2019, pleading guilty on the second last March, shortly before the court was due to fix his trial date in Grand Forks.
Johnstone pleaded guilty under “pressured circumstances,” Crown and defence counsels told Judge Phillip Seagram. Seagram cited a forensic psychiatrist’s finding that Johnstone, who suffers from a social anxiety disorder, was “apparently confused” when he entered his guilty plea.
Accepting Johnstone’s claim that he hadn’t been able to effectively consult legal council, Seagram told the court that this “may have led” the accused to enter his guilty plea impulsively.
“I find it would be unjust not to permit the withdrawal in this case,” Seagram told Johnstone Tuesday afternoon.
Seagram put Johnstone’s case forward to March 9, when he said the court would fix a one-day trial at the city courthouse.
“It would not be appropriate for me to hear the trial now,” he told the court.