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Criminal justice

Criminal justice Quebec Quebec Court of Appeal Spotlight Supreme Court of Canada

Quebec appeal court to hear appeals in two Jordan cases

Nearly a year to the day when the Supreme Court of Canada issued its landmark Jordan ruling, the Quebec Court of Appeal announced that a five-judge panel will hear an appeal late this summer of a decision to stay a murder charge against a Sri Lankan refugee even though the accused has been deported back to his homeland.…

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Criminal justice Quebec

Delays in criminal trials cut by nearly half in Quebec

A 20-year old man from Western Quebec who was accused of assault causing bodily harm while he was a teenager is the latest to have benefitted from a stay of proceedings due to unreasonable delays.

More recently still, a week after Khalid Gakmakge was refused a stay for a 2011 murder he is accused of committing, a Sri Lankan man charged with killing his wife in Quebec five years ago has been deported after the charge against him was stayed because his constitutional right to a timely trial was delayed.

Ever since the Supreme Court of Canada’s landmark R. v. Jordan decision a year ago, approximately 1,766 motions to stay because of unreasonable delays have been filed across the country, with 204 having been granted and 333 dismissed, according to figures obtained by Canadian Press. The remainder are either before the courts, forsaken by defence, or resolved on other grounds.

While the figures may appear to be disturbing, a Dalhousie University law professor who conducted a review of stay applications in the six months following the Jordan, found that there has only been a slight increase in the number of applications filed, most of whom have taken place in Ontario.…

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Criminal justice Quebec

Quebec yet again calls on Ottawa to appoint more judges

Days after the new president of the Quebec legal society said that the landmark Jordan ruling could “do us good if we could solve the problem,” Quebec Justice Minister Stephanie Vallée called on the federal government yet again to quickly appoint 10 new Superior Court justices in the province.

Despite significant investments over the past six months by the Quebec government to curb delays in the criminal justice system, Quebec is still struggling as the number of Jordan-related requests for a stay of proceedings keeps on surging. The Quebec Director of criminal and penal prosecutions (DPCP) revealed that there were 684 Jordan applications as of March 23, 2017, a figure that has grown to 895 as of late May.…

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Criminal justice Quebec

Quebec Crown requested 134 stays following Jordan ruling

At least 134 accused were released at the request of the Crown from July 2016 to April 24, 2017 following the Jordan ruling, revealed Annick Murphy, the head of the Director of criminal and penal prosecutions (DPCP), during testimony at a parliamentary commission before the Quebec National Assembly.

Of the 134 accused, 75 so-called nolle prosequi – or formal notice of abandonment by the prosecutor of all or part of the action – were entered after defence filed a Jordan motion. The remaining 59 were filed “voluntarily” by the DPCP, said Murphy.…

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Criminal justice Quebec Quebec Superior Court

Crown blamed after judge stays murder case

The last time it happened a superior court judge apologized.

“I am very sorry that the system has let you down,” said Ontario Superior Court Justice Julianne Parfett last November to the mother of the deceased after she threw out a first-degree murder case against former Canadian Forces soldier Adam Picard because of excessive delays.

It happened again. This time in Quebec.…

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Criminal justice Quebec Supreme Court of Canada

Jordan applications keep on rising

The numbers seem to be growing by the day. Ever since the Supreme Court of Canada issued its landmark Jordan ruling on July 2016, the pressure on the justice system seems to be growing. Not a day seems to go by without some horror story about some criminal being let off because of the new deadlines set by the nation's highest court.

The Quebec criminal justice is struggling to comply with the new rules, implicitly acknowledged the Quebec Minister of Justice Stéphanie Vallée when she announced the new investments last December.

Now there are hard figures to back up those concerns.…

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Criminal justice Quebec

Quebec hires more judges and Crown prosecutors to curb delays

Under growing pressure to mitigate a growing backlog of cases in the criminal justice system, the Quebec government announced on December 2016 that it was going to pour $175.2 million over the next four years to recruit new judges, prosecutors and support staff to help curb mounting court delays.

They are finally delivering – and more.

Quebec Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée announced this week that 16 new judges were appointed to the Court of Quebec plus two more who will replace recent departures. The provincial government promised 45 more Crown prosecutors but they ended up hiring 52 since last December along with some 50 support staff to help them out. As well 38 correctional services officers were hired, 16 special constables, 32 probation officers and more support staff at the Quebec Ministry of Justice. All told more than 300 were hired. On top of that, three new hearing rooms are now operational in Montreal and Laval.…

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Access to justice Criminal justice Quebec

Report urges overhaul of Quebec megatrials

A cultural change that emphasizes collaboration between all players of Quebec’s criminal justice system is the only way to ensure that costly and unwieldly megatrials do not end up in fiascos, according to a well-received comprehensive report on multi-defendant trials.

The long-awaited 180-page report also urges the Quebec government to provide more resources to the province's Director of Penal and Criminal Prosecutions (DPCP), recommends that Quebec crown prosecutors limit the number of accused and concentrate their efforts on criminals most involved in serious crimes, advises the creation of a permanent forum for stakeholders to share best practices, proposes that police and prosecutors take management training, and calls on judges to use the powers they have more effectively. All told, the report makes 51 wide-ranging recommendations.…

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Access to justice Criminal justice Quebec

Quebec criminal justice plagued by delays

Quebec’s justice system will require more money and human resources, need to make more use of technological advances to efficiently deal with routine appearances, and prioritize and encourage timely resolution of cases to be able to curb the unprecedented delays in criminal proceedings, according to the Chief Justice of the Court of Quebec Elizabeth Corte.

“It’s been a long time since we have been talking about this issue, and perhaps the time has come to say that we have done everything we could -- and to improve the way things are done, perhaps we have to realize that we have to inject a bit of money, resources, and technology,” said Justice Corte.…

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Aboriginal law Barreau du Quebec Criminal justice Quebec

Quebec Ombudsman slams detention conditions in the North

Nearly three years after the president of the Quebec legal society warned the provincial government that prison conditions faced by Inuit inmates in northern Quebec were appalling and deplorable, the Quebec Ombudsman upbraided the government for turning a blind eye to the daily violation of basic human rights, unacceptable detention conditions, and systemic shortcomings in the administration of justice in Nunavik.

Unsanitary and overcrowded holding cells, nauseating odours, soiled bedding, inaccessible showers, sanitation facilities that fail to provide detainees with privacy, and prisoners having to eat their meals on the floor are among some of the more disturbing findings made by the Quebec Ombudsman Raymonde Saint-Germain who likened Nunavik’s detention and justice system to the Third World.

Just as troubling were her findings that detainees are kept in cells 24 hours a day because there are no outdoor courtyards, with some detainees having to wait as long as two weeks in preventative custody. The Criminal Code of Canada prescribes a maximum waiting time of three days.…

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