Justice delayed is justice as usual


Let’s review. On February 3, 2010, Auditor General Jacques Lapointe reported some Nova Scotia MLAs played fast and loose with their expense accounts.

One year after that—on February 14, 2011—RCMP charged three former and one sitting MLA with the criminal equivalent of fast and loose.

Today—17 months after those charges, 30 months after that report—only two of those cases have completely navigated the legal system, and only because the MLAs pleaded guilty.

Two didn’t. Former NDP-now-Independent MLA Trevor Zinck is due back in court in September just to set dates for his trial. Former Liberal MLA Russell MacKinnon’s trial isn’t scheduled to begin until March 2013—37 months after the A-G’s report.

By the time those trials—and appeals—play out, I’ll be more than pensionable. The Toronto Maple Leafs may have won the Stanley Cup…

Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms includes the right to be tried within a reasonable time period.

What’s reasonable?

Last month, an accused in the 2011 Stanley Cup riots appeared in Vancouver court to have her trial date set: Fall 2013.

While the court deemed that reasonable, British Columbia judges threw out 109 other charges last year because cases had taken too long to reach them. How long must they have taken.

In Ontario in April, a man accused of using a stolen identity to sneak into Canada two-and-a-half years ago had charges against him stayed because of delays.

What’s the solution? Hire more judges? Improve disclosure? Impose new rules to speed up trials?

I don’t know, but I do know that if we care about justice-delayed-is-justice-denied, we need to start talking about this issue—and stop allowing the Harper government to see building more jails to house more people for longer periods as the solution to everything.

Consider. Seventeen years after a group of Port Hawkesbury men went to the RCMP to complain they’d been sexually abused as children by Fenwick MacIntosh, they’re still waiting for justice. This fall, the Supreme Court of Canada will decide whether to uphold this year’s Nova Scotia Appeal Court decision to acquit MacIntosh—not because the judges believed he didn’t commit the crimes but because the case had taken so long, it “prejudiced his right to a fair trial.” #next_pages_container { width: 5px; hight: 5px; position: absolute; top: -100px; left: -100px; z-index: 2147483647 !important; }


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