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.
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.
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.
Under mounting pressure to ease the huge backlog of cases in the criminal court system, the Quebec government recently announced that it will inject $175.2 million over the next four years to recruit new judges, prosecutors and support staff and add new courtrooms to help curb court delays.
The new monies, investments that the Quebec legal community have been clamouring for years, come on the heels of revelations that approximately 288 criminal cases may be dropped following the precedent-setting ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada last July in R. v. Jordan.