News details

Connection







Lost password?

Latest news

Not all Questions are Good Questions: Avoiding Discriminatory Interview Practices
Not all Questions are Good Questions: Avoiding Discriminatory Interview Practices

Much ink has been spilled over a recent decision by the Commission de la fonction publique (the "Commission") on the topic of discriminatory interview practices. In Association des procureurs aux poursuites criminelles et pénales et Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales[1], the Commission found that the plaintiff had been discriminated against when she was denied a position due to her pregnancy.

[ ...More ]
Publication date : 2018-10-11
Federal government facing pushback over bill to transform justice system
Federal government facing pushback over bill to transform justice system

One thing that both the prosecution and the defence seem to agree on is that the federal government’s push to cut preliminary inquiries in most criminal cases will not solve the long-standing problem of delays in the criminal justice system.

[ ...More ]
Publication date : 2018-10-01
National Prosecution Authority (NPA) Hosts International Conference of Prosecutors Focusing on Prose
National Prosecution Authority (NPA) Hosts International Conference of Prosecutors Focusing on Prose

More than 400 senior prosecutors, including heads of prosecuting agencies from 83 countries, have descended in Johannesburg to attend the 23rd Annual General Meeting and Conference of the International Association of Prosecutors (IAP) at the Sandton Convention Centre (SCC), from 9 – 13 September 2018. The conference, hosted under the leadership of acting National Director of Public Prosecutions, Dr Silas Ramaite SC will be opened with a keynote address by the Minister of Justice & Correctional Services, Michael Masutha on Monday 10 September.

[ ...More ]
Publication date : 2018-09-11
South Africa hosts The International Association of Prosecutors’ Conference, 9-14 September 2018
South Africa hosts The International Association of Prosecutors’ Conference, 9-14 September 2018

South Africa will from 9 – 14 September 2018 host the annual International Association of Prosecutors (IAP) Conference at the Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg under the theme: “Prosecutorial Independence – the Cornerstone of Justice to Society”.

[ ...More ]
Publication date : 2018-09-10
Crown attorneys want to form a union, but NDP government presents a hurdle
Crown attorneys want to form a union, but NDP government presents a hurdle

Alberta’s Crown prosecutors want to unionize, but face hurdles to their bid, including the wording of provincial legislation and opposition from the NDP government.

[ ...More ]
Publication date : 2018-08-17
Ford opposes handgun ban as he pledges funds to fight gun violence
Ford opposes handgun ban as he pledges funds to fight gun violence

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he opposes a handgun ban in Toronto because it would penalize legal gun owners, but vowed to help tackle gun violence in the city by pledging $25-million over four years for police and the courts.

[ ...More ]
Publication date : 2018-08-09


<-- Back to archived news

Alberta prosecutors at ‘breaking point’ as abandoned cases pile up

02-03-2017

Alberta prosecutors say they are at a “breaking point” and have abandoned many more serious criminal cases than the public knows – far more than the 15 cases that came to light on Tuesday in Provincial Court in Edmonton. (WESLEY VANDINTER/GETTY IMAGES)

 

Alberta prosecutors say they are at a "breaking point" and have abandoned many more serious criminal cases than the public knows – far more than the 15 cases that came to light on Tuesday in Provincial Court in Edmonton.

 

James Pickard, president of the Alberta Crown Attorneys' Association, says they have stayed criminal charges against 200 people – including 18 accused of impaired driving – in the past two months because of a shortage of prosecutors.

 

The revelation comes a day after Edmonton's Chief Crown Prosecutor, Shelley Bykewich, said in Provincial Court that she was staying 15 cases, amounting to 40 charges, including weapons offences and drunk driving, because of a lack of resources.

 

That was the first publicly known instance in Canada of a large-scale suspension at one swath of legal proceedings over resources in response to a Supreme Court of Canada ruling last July known as R v. Jordan that set time limits for criminal trials. But others were happening, out of sight, in smaller numbers in Alberta. And on Wednesday, the province's 250-plus prosecutors made the larger amount of stays public and criticized the government's "triage" strategy for dealing with the new time limits of 18 months in Provincial Court and 30 months in superior court, from charge to a trial's completion.

 

"It just seems to me [triage is] a medical term that's used in an emergency room because the emergency room has no choice," Mr. Pickard told The Globe and Mail. "That emergency room is responding to injuries when someone walks in, so you triage then. You don't triage when you have the opportunity to prevent that from happening. You don't create a triage situation."

 

Of the impaired-driving cases that have been dropped, he said: "We are potentially opening up the situation for an impaired driver to kill somebody."

 

Alberta Attorney-General Kathleen Ganley is standing behind the triage approach. "Jordan represented a sea change in the law," she told The Globe. "We had to react very quickly. All of our Crowns will try to do their best to make sure the triaging is by way of settling matters or by way of sending additional things to diversion [such as mental-health courts or other non-traditional approaches]. But sometimes it will be the case that charges will be withdrawn."

 

She was skeptical of Mr. Pickard's assertion that people would die as a result of the impaired-driving charges dismissed by prosecutors: "It's important to bear in mind that we have given discretion to our front-line prosecutors to exercise their best judgment to ensure that the matters proceeding are the most serious and the most violent, and the matters that will endanger life. Mr. Pickard may doubt their ability to exercise that discretion judiciously, but I think that for the most part they … do consider public safety top of mind."

 

Edmonton defence lawyer Tom Engel was also skeptical of what the prosecutors are telling the public. "I think they're lobbying for more money," he said.

 

Alberta will table a budget in mid-March, and the prosecutors are asking for 35 vacant positions to be filled, and another 50 to be created. (There are 262 provincial prosecutors at the moment in Alberta, a number the association says has barely budged since 2006, before the population grew by one-third. Ms. Ganley disputed that, saying 28 prosecutors were added in 2009-10.) Mr. Engel said he believes that some of the stayed charges were simply weak cases better off dropped.

 

In October, Alberta announced a triage strategy for giving priority to serious and violent offences. Two weeks earlier, an Alberta judge had dismissed a first-degree murder charge against federal prisoner Lance Regan, accused of stabbing to death a fellow inmate at Edmonton Institution. By creating the possibility that murder cases would be thrown out, the Supreme Court ruling put pressure on cases at the lower end, which are large in number and can be time-consuming. Alberta's triage approach aimed to ensure that murder and other violent crimes could meet the Supreme Court deadlines.

 

Impaired driving is an offence that has been the subject of countless publicity campaigns by governments and non-profit groups and random stop programs by police. Parliament deems it important enough to require mandatory minimum penalties.

 

"How does someone charged with impaired driving fully accept the gravity of what they have done if they're not being held accountable?" Jason Hills, president of the Edmonton chapter of MADD, a non-profit group, said in an interview.

 

Mr. Pickard said the government's triage strategy had four levels: first, "case viability standards," in which weak cases would not receive extra Crown resources, but instead would be dismissed; alternative measures, in which people who accept responsibility for minor crimes could be dealt with outside of court, by making restitution or doing volunteer work, for instance; early resolution, in which teams of prosecutors would screen charges to determine whether a "best offer" plea deal could be made to an accused; and dropping cases because resources are stretched too thin. Mr. Pickard said that was supposed to be "the last resort," and that the province has now arrived at that stage.

 

Ms. Ganley said the province is currently recruiting 14 to 16 prosecutors and will have more to say about additional resources in the budget process.

 

"Crowns have been staying charges since there have been Crowns," she said in the interview. "That's always an option available. Sometimes it's for reason of insufficient evidence to prosecute. Or sometimes it's because it's not in the public interest to prosecute. Obviously this isn't business as usual but it's also not totally unusual."

 

She said that 75 per cent of the cases were administration of justice offences such as failure to appear in court. Mr. Pickard said that was incorrect and that they involved 200 separate individuals and "they were all impaireds, frauds, thefts, assaults, etc."

 

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/alberta-prosecutors-push-back-against-new-trial-length-rules/article34181397/