MONTREAL -- Former Quebec judge Jacques Delisle, convicted in 2012 of killing his wife, will regain his freedom pending his retrial.

On Friday, Superior Court Judge François Huot granted the 85-year-old's request after a hearing that lasted only 15 minutes.

Delisle will therefore be able to leave the La Macaza penitentiary in the Laurentians, where he has been serving a life sentence, and be reunited with loved ones in Quebec City.

He has agreed to respect all the conditions proposed by the Crown, including a ban on applying for a passport, on leaving Canada and on possessing weapons.

He has also agreed to post $100,000 bail in the event of a breach. His daughter Elene will serve as a moral guarantor.

Masked, wearing a blue shirt, his white hair slicked back, Delisle appeared Friday by videoconference. He answered the judge that he was 'definitely' going to respect his conditions.

He also asked him to send a certified copy of his decision to the penitentiary.

"Only upon receipt of this document will I be released," he added.


This unexpected development comes after federal Justice Minister David Lametti on Wednesday ordered a new trial for the former Quebec Court of Appeal judge.

Claiming to be the "victim of a miscarriage of justice," Delisle had applied in 2015 to the justice minister for a review of his case, a rare procedure provided for in the Criminal Code.

In a statement released Wednesday, Lametti said new information had been discovered that was not before the courts at the time of the trial and appeal.

On Friday, at the Quebec City courthouse, Jacques Delisle's lawyers argued that their client should be released on bail pending his retrial.

They argued that "the new evidence considered by the minister suggests that Mr. Delisle is probably innocent and that Ms. Rainville's death was a suicide."

Furthermore, "Mr. Delisle's continued detention is not necessary in the public interest," argued the lawyers, who assured that their client will comply with all the terms of the release order.

The Crown conceded that the "legal effect" of Lametti's decision was to "replace the accused in June 2010" while he was awaiting trial and on conditional release.

"The verdict is overturned," defence lawyer Jacques Larochelle said Friday at a media scrum.

"At 75 years old when he appeared, he was deemed worthy of release. How could he logically be kept in detention after nine years in prison, when he is 10 years older, less dangerous, less likely to flee and commit other offences?"

Crown spokesperson Audrey Roy-Cloutier, insisted on the fact that a conditional release was not synonymous with an acquittal.

At the end of the retrial, the man could be found guilty again.

"The order issued by Lametti does not mean that the convicted person is innocent," she said, adding that the accused was now presumed innocent.

The case has been postponed to Sept. 7.


In June 2012, Delisle was found guilty for the 2009 murder of his 71-year-old wife, Nicole Rainville.

In 2013, the Quebec Court of Appeal rejected his appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada subsequently refused to hear the case.

According to the ex-judge's version, his wife, depressed and paralyzed on her right side, took her own life in 2009 with a revolver, found next to her lifeless body.

The Crown prosecutor had argued that Delisle had killed his wife to live with his mistress and avoid an expensive divorce.

Complex ballistic evidence was presented on both sides to show whether Rainville could have inflicted the gunshot wound on herself.

Delisle did not testify at his trial. However, in 2015, he had admitted in an interview that he had helped Rainville to take her life by leaving a loaded gun at her disposal.

- This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 9, 2021.