A man serving a life sentence for murdering a 16-year-old boy will stay behind bars at Abbotsford’s Pacific Institution, and they won’t have a Wiccan priestess giving them legal advice.
John Mark Lee Jr. had that unusual request (and others) turned down by a Chilliwack judge following an April 24 hearing. B.C. Supreme Court Justice Ardith Walkem delivered her verdict May 10, the latest in a long string of legal setbacks for the two-spirited Indigenous person who murdered 16-year-old William Patrick MacLeod in Kingston, ON. in 1986. Lee was sentenced to life in prison in 1987. They became eligible for parole after serving 25 years, in 2012, and they have been denied parole several times since.
Though Lee has insisted many times that they are being wrongfully detained, in this case, they weren’t seeking release but rather a transfer to a lower security jail, the Circle of Eagles Lodge in Vancouver. Claiming they were being denied services by the Correctional Service of Canada, they asked for access to a computer and associated equipment, at-cost postage, computer storage services, and storage for their legal files. And for reasons unexplained, Lee requested a Wiccan high priestess and chaplain under the name Ms. Savel who would be allowed to participate in court hearings and review their file.
In her decision, Walkem said Lee’s written submissions “were lengthy, often duplicated themselves, and were, at times, difficult to follow.”
They applied for the transfer to the Circle of Eagles Lodge under habeas corpus, a constitutional safeguard against unlawful or indefinite confinement. But because they weren’t arguing against unlawful or indefinite confinement this time (they have, many times before) Walkem shot it down.
“Mr. Lee is complaining of an alleged unlawful loss of an opportunity to move into a less restrictive form of detention at the Circle of Eagles Lodge,” the judge wrote. “This is not within the scope of the writ of habeas corpus.”
Similarly, Walkem said Lee’s request for a computer, postage and the Wiccan priestess were matters for the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA) and not the B.C. Supreme Court.
“A grievance process exists within the CCRA,” Walkem wrote. “Ultimately a judicial review of a decision made in that process lies to the Federal Court.”
Lee has been very active cooking up legal challenges since he went behind bars, to the point where they have been branded a ‘vexatious litigant’ by Alberta’s courts and the federal court.
A vexatious litigant is someone who files persistent unsuccessful appeals, pursues hopeless litigation that includes repeated abuse of habeas corpus procedure, brings litigation for improper purposes and makes unsubstantiated allegations of conspiracy and fraud against opposing lawyers and employees of Correctional Service Canada.
Lee has checked all of those boxes. One particularly dark lawsuit saw Lee unsuccessfully sue the family of the boy he murdered because they kept a memorial Facebook page. Lee claimed “intentionally inflicted mental suffering” because of the Facebook page and victim impact statements the family submitted for his many parole hearings.