Fix The Court System, Now


We don’t know if Adam Picard allegedly killed Fouad Nayel in June 2012. Picard was charged with first-degree murder but the trial was stayed.


You see the 48-month delay in bringing Picard to trial resulted in a stay of the charges because it was ruled that Picard’s right to a speedy trial was violated.

Attorney General Yasir Naqvi and the Crown are appealing the stay.

The Supreme Court of Canada, in what has become known as the Jordan decision, has placed a 30-month limit between charges being laid and a trial being completed for Superior Court cases. Provincial court cases … 18 months.

The limits appear to be reasonable for finding a resolution.

Except there is one problem.

At least 1,000 criminal cases are in danger of finishing the way Picard’s situation did.

So Naqvi is caught between a rock and a hard place or rather a backlog and justice.

Justice is not served by staying trials because of unusually lengthy delays for the case to reach a resolution. Long delays don’t contribute to justice either.

Seeing that trials proceed quickly does not engender much love in the community for the provincial government. Neither does prison reform. Staying murder trials does even less for electoral success.

It’s not as though the Liberal government at Queen’s Park didn’t know about the delays or hasn’t had enough time to solve the huge problem. The Grits have been in power for a long time and the issue has not been solved under the party’s watch.

The fault for this situation resides with the Liberals and their inability to provide enough resources to ensure speedy justice. Staying murder trials does nothing for respect for the law.

Ending court backlogs is not as sexy as cutting ribbons for light-rail projects or building new hospitals. But the public does expect that the humdrum functions of government be treated thoroughly.

Queen’s Park has not done this and the result calls into question the proper function of the justice system. Ontarians expect the court system to work properly. It is an outrage that it does not.

The Liberal government should never have allowed this situation to become so bad.

Naqvi can appeal cases all he wants. Is he prepared to appeal a thousand cases? Probably not. And the appeals? What do they do to all the backed-up cases?

Fix the backlog now.


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4 thoughts on “Fix The Court System, Now

  1. Why doesn’t the AG 1) make the courts prioritize the more serious cases so that, if anything is stayed, it’s a shoplifting case instead of a murder case; 2) appoint enough judges, with the necessary staff and prosecutors, to clear the backlog and then maintain the court system at a level that avoids another backlog building up?

    What’s the point of the police putting all the time they do into investigating a case and the Crown attorney preparing that case only to have it stayed once it gets to court? It creates phenomenal hardship for the family and friends of the victim and puts people who may be killers back on the street. The only winners are the alleged murderer and the legal aid system that doesn’t have to pay the defence lawyer for a lengthy trial.

    The other loser is faith in the justice system.

  2. Ken,
    There is really only one appeal necessary. The appeal comes from the public.
    You said it – fix the system.
    Surely, all those brainy people can find a solution.
    Work, work, work – so much to do, so little time.
    Justice must not be hastened but a year-and-a-half seems reasonable for provincial cases and two-and-a-half years for Superior Court cases seems reasonable.
    Lawyers do love to talk.
    The defence, sometimes, wants to drag it out. The Crown may not have enough staff.
    Some overtime pay may be required.
    The Crown must always check to be sure that its case is solid before laying the charge (nothing worse than finding out that you are not quite ready after the case gets in front of a judge).
    Hey, Perry Mason can wrap up a case in an hour so 18 and 30 months should be attainable goals.

  3. The solution to the problem is one of resource allocation, or put another way, setting priorities on where to spend our tax dollars. As Ken points out, there are not a lot of ribbon-cutting opportunities when fixing a long-standing systemic problem, especially a problem of one’s own making.

    The solution must come from a leadership group that understands its responsibilities are to our society as a whole, not to their voter base or the block of voters they want to attract at the next election. Quite frankly, we have not been blessed with quality leadership in this province or this country for a few decades now.


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