Alberta Justice is taking action to make sure it isn’t losing cases because of unreasonable delays. Several high profile cases have been bumped up in the court schedule because prosecutors don’t want to risk them being thrown out.
A Supreme Court of Canada ruling earlier this year set new rules for how long a case can take from start to finish.
The case was R. vs. Jordan. Any applications made citing its time guidelines are now called “Jordan applications.”
Under the new rules, an unreasonable delay would be presumed should proceedings exceed 18 months in provincial court or 30 months in superior court from the date of charge to the end of a trial.
In October, the province announced a new triage system which it says is already proving effective.
“Triage sort of works to allow us to meet those timelines by ensuring that cases that don’t require trial time move through the system quickly and that nothing is being set for trial that’s not actually going to proceed to trial,” Chief Crown Prosecutor Suzanne Kendall told Global News in an exclusive interview.
The priority is serious and violent crimes.
“We are examining each of the cases where there’s a concern about Jordan and we’re actively taking steps to ensure we don’t lose those cases to delay,” Kendall said.
Several high profile cases have recently been moved ahead, including the Edward Downey case.
Downey is accused of two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of 5-year-old Taliyah Marsman and her mother, Sara Baillie.
His preliminary inquiry has been pushed up by four months. Originally scheduled for Aug. 14-25, 2017, it will now be heard April 10-13, 2017.
“We’ve been very successful in moving matters — bringing matters forward and setting earlier trial time — in order to make sure we don’t run into problems with Jordan down the line,” Kendall said.
“We have also established an early case resolution unit in our office and that’s a group of experienced lawyers who are available to meet with defence counsel and come up with early resolution on cases,” she explained.
There have been 36 Jordan applications in Alberta since the Supreme court ruling in July. Five have been successful, including a first-degree murder case.
Lance Matthew Regan had his charge of first-degree murder stayed on Friday, Oct. 7.
In the ruling, Justice S.D. Hillier said Regan’s right to be tried within a “reasonable time” was violated. He was accused in the stabbing death of Mason Tex Montgrand, 21, a fellow inmate at Edmonton Institution, on Aug. 16, 2011.
Alberta Justice has appealed that decision.
There have also been eight Jordan applications dismissed by the court in Alberta.
“I think the important thing to know is simply because an accused person and their counsel chooses to bring a Jordan application, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be successful,” Kendall said.
There are 12 applications currently pending in the province, five in Calgary, including a conspiracy to commit murder case.