Supreme Court stands by its controversial ruling to ensure timely trials

June 16, 2017
Article Source
Toronto Star

In a unanimous ruling Friday, the Supreme Court of Canada stuck to its guns on a controversial ruling it issued last year that set strict timelines for criminal trials.

Instead of backing down in the face of widespread controversy, alarmist headlines and several provinces which demanded more flexibility, the country's top court said its new framework under a ruling known as Jordan now governs how judges should assess the Charter guarantee to a trial within a reasonable time.

"Like any of this Court's precedents, it must be followed and it cannot be lightly discarded or overruled," the court said Friday.

"Properly applied, this framework provides sufficient flexibility and accounts for the transitional period of time that is required for the criminal justice system to adapt."

That means the criminal justice system gets just 18 months from the laying of a charge to complete a trial in provincial court, and 30 months for serious, often more complex cases in Superior Court trials.

In upholding its ruling in Jordan last year, the high court is rejecting concern that serious cases like murder or sexual assault charges are unjustly being tossed out under the new framework.

"Every actor in the justice system has a responsibility to ensure that criminal proceedings are carried out in a manner that is consistent with an accused person's right to a trial within a reasonable time," said the court.

The high court restored a trial judge's order to halt proceedings against James Cody, one of several men accused in a cross-country police operation, whose case took five years to be brought to trial. It overturned a Newfoundland Court of Appeal ruling that had wrongly applied the Jordan framework.

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