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Applying the Jordan framework: Are courts placing too much of the burden on the defence?
Applying the Jordan framework: Are courts placing too much of the burden on the defence?

In R v. Jordan, the Supreme Court put a hard cap on the duration of criminal trials — sending a thrill of panic through the justice system in the process. The ruling is roughly two and a half years old now. Time for the training wheels to come off.Now, that backlog of pre-Jordan charges has been largely cleared — the transitional period is over. But Crown and defence lawyers alike report that trial times aren’t speeding up; statistics cited in a recent Law Times article show that in the Ontario Court of Justice, average times to disposition and the number of court appearances have not diminished since Jordan. If the SCC intended the ruling as a salutary shock to the system, it didn’t work.So what happens now?

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Publication date : 2018-12-18
RCMP’s forensic firearm testing backlog adding delays to justice system

The RCMP’s forensics labs are taking nearly four times longer to analyze firearms than they did just four years ago, adding delays to a criminal justice system under pressure to speed up after a recent Supreme Court decision.

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Publication date : 2018-12-16
Court delays persist, despite Jordan
Court delays persist, despite Jordan

The Supreme Court of Canada decision in Jordanand the problems it tried to address are still top of mind in the criminal courts in Ontario nearly two-and-a-half years after it was released.

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Publication date : 2018-12-03
The performance pay saga reaches a settlement
The performance pay saga reaches a settlement

The issue is the prorating of performance pay in relation to pre-promotion period for the year in which lawyers are promoted. If a lawyer was eligible for performance pay and was promoted during the year, the Employer, rather than pay out a prorated performance pay for the period pre-promotion, paid out nothing at all regardless of your performance rating for the year. The AJC originally filed a grievance in 2011 and in response to that grievance, TB had conceded in the context of the adjudication hearing that pre-promotion service should be recognized. Unfortunately, the adjudicator originally disregarded TB's concession in his decision of 2015, requiring the AJC to file an application for judicial review, which eventually resulted on December 22, 2016 in a remedy limited to the right to pre-promotion performance pay for the year 2010-2011. Thus, the AJC filed another policy grievance on July 27th 2016. The hearing was scheduled for October 2018. We are pleased to announce that we now have a signed Memorandum of Settlement on this matter with TB.  

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Publication date : 2018-10-30
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.

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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.

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Publication date : 2018-10-01


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Alberta’s justice system has reached ‘breaking point,’ say prosecutors

01-03-2017
Prosecutor James Pickard says prosecutors are having to stay criminal charges because there aren't enough staff to deal with them.

 

The justice system in Alberta is facing a crisis, according to Crown prosecutors.

 

The Alberta Crown Attorneys' Association took the unusual step of calling a news conference Wednesday after Edmonton's chief Crown prosecutor stayed 15 separate criminal prosecutions on Feb. 28 because of a lack of resources. 

 

Those charges included impaired driving, assaulting a police officer, and weapons charges. 

 

The choice to stay charges because of a shortage of prosecutors is affecting the whole province, said James Pickard, assistant executive director of Specialized Prosecutions with Alberta Justice.

 

"Since January 2017, all across Alberta, we are confident in stating that approximately 200 significant charges have been stayed due to a lack of resources," he said.

 

In Edmonton in December 2016 alone, 20 charges were abandoned because there were too few Crown prosecutors to see them through, he said.

 

Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley acknowledged the short staffing to be a problem. 

 

"We're concerned as well," she said. 

 

"Over a number of years, the number of matters in court have increased and the number of prosecutors has not increased at the same rate."

 

Alberta Justice has not added any new positions to the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service since 2010.  

 

Number and severity of charges growing in province

 

The number and severity of criminal charges have grown in Alberta, with over 250,000 criminal charges laid in 2015-2016, said Pickard, emphasizing that's a nearly 10 per cent increase over the previous year.

 

"Alberta's Crown prosecutors are fighting a losing battle to keep up with the increasing number of significant criminal offences," he said.

 

Pickard said "years of neglect," along with the current provincial hiring freeze, are to blame.

 

The government needs to drop the hiring freeze and fill the 35 vacant positions that currently exist, he said. 

 

In Edmonton, there is a 16 per cent vacancy in prosecutors based on 2006 levels, said Breena Smith, a Crown prosecutor in Edmonton.

 

Prosecutors have left or retired and their positions haven't been filled, she said.

 

Criminal defence lawyer Kelly Dawson said although the situation appears politically charged with the provincial budget coming down this month, the Crown prosecutors raise real issues. 

 

"We've actually done a little bit of work to figure out, trying to be reasonable in a time of fiscal restraint, what we need as a first step," Pickard said. "We think that 50 Crown prosecutors is a legitimate, fair, first step to start addressing the problems within the prosecution service."

 

The ministry said in an email that it is actively recruiting 14 to 16 prosecutors across the province right now. Eight to 10 of the positions are in Edmonton, four are in Grande Prairie and one is in St. Paul. 

 

Dawson said he's also met with the province over concerns about the ongoing need for increased legal aid funding. 

 

"I think it's got to the point that the prosecutors are so frustrated because they've been dealing with staff shortages ... that they decided to make a political statement as opposed to try to make this work," he said. 

 

"The government has been receptive to meeting with us, consulting with us," he said. "But at some point you wonder if they're really listening to anything other than public pressure." 

 

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/alberta-justice-system-has-reached-breaking-point-says-prosecutor-1.4005404