“We are heading for a second episode of the Jordan verdict”

As many as 50,000 criminal cases per year could exceed the 18-month deadlines set out in the Jordanian decision — and potentially be the subject of a request for a stay of proceedings — if judges at the Québec Court of Justice begin one of two days September, as of Chief Justice Lucie Rondeau wished to disclose the Department of Justice’s estimates obtained from The duty.

“We’re headed straight for a second episode of the Jordan ruling, and worse,” says a concerned source familiar with the matter. Questioned on the issue on Friday, Justice Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette asked the Quebec court to “reconsider its decision.”

Earlier this year, the Quebec Court of Justice notified the Justice Department of its desire for judges in its Trial Chamber to meet on one work day in two, instead of two days out of three, once the school year begins. To mitigate the legal delays this could cause, the Chief Justice is asking for 41 judges to be appointed.

To analyze Lucie Rondeau’s request, the Justice Department assessed the impact that the reorganization of the work of judges would have on the delays in trials. Outcome: He estimates that in one court year, based on our information, about 50,000 of his Trial Chamber’s 170,000 active cases would exceed the 18-month ceiling of the Jordan verdict.

In July 2016, the Supreme Court ruled that the reasonable time for a criminal trial to be held in the Quebec court was 18 months. However, this calculation takes into account delays attributable to defense. This means that simply exceeding the 18-month threshold would not automatically mean the end of those 50,000 cases, as defendants would have to demonstrate that the delays impacted their right to a “fair” trial.”

In comparison, around 33,000 cases experienced delays of more than 18 months when the decision was made in Jordan. Over the next two years, 1,680 motions for a stay of trial for unreasonable delay were made by defendants trying to avoid trial.

Still, Minister Jolin-Barrette is worried about the potential impact of the Quebec court’s decision. “Like other players in this field, we are very concerned about the impact that the Quebec Court’s decision would have on judicial delays without consulting judicial partners,” he said Have to. “We are asking the Quebec court to reconsider its decision. »

Given the ongoing discussions in this case, Judge Rondeau preferred not to grant the court an interview Have to. “It is not appropriate to comment in detail on the various angles from which the file is discussed,” she wrote in an email sent on Friday.

She then stressed that the current organization of the work of judges in criminal cases has not changed for 40 years and that it “represents an important concern that has been the subject of reflection and discussion within our institution for some time. According to the Québec Court the restructuring of judges’ work is “needed by the development of this function”.

Judge Rondeau said she was waiting to meet the minister. Meanwhile, “ongoing discussions with ministry officials include an assessment of the impact of such a reorganization on court hours, which vary by region,” she added. “Concerned and aware of this impact, the Québec Court is participating in this work in a spirit of collaboration aimed at the gradual deployment of additional resources so that it can deliver quality services, in line with public expectations, within a reasonable time.” . . »

Like other players in this field, we are very concerned about the impact that the Quebec Court’s decision would have on judicial delays without consulting judicial partners.

For his part, the head of criminal and prosecution expressed concern about the will of the Quebec court. “This decision raises concerns within our institution as it will inevitably result in an extension of institutional deadlines,” said her spokeswoman, Ms.and Audrey Roy Cloutier.

“While the impact on our ability to comply with the caps set by the Jordanian decision will not be the same across courthouses, in the interests of victims, witnesses, defendants and the public’s confidence, we must be concerned about any extension of court delays that may occur.” judicial system,” she added, after specifying that “many concerted efforts have been made by all those involved in the judicial system to reduce judicial delays since the Jordan decision”.

The Commission des Services Juridiques (CSJ), which is responsible for ensuring that legal aid is available to those entitled to it, is also “concerned about the impact [l’orientation de la Cour du Québec] to the increase in judicial delays in general”.

His Secretary General, Mr.and Richard La Charité, announced this Have to that the SCJ “has communicated its concerns to the court” and “expressed its willingness to discuss and cooperate in this case.” The CSJ estimates that almost 75% of the cases tried in the Criminal and Criminal Division of the Quebec Court are tried under the guise of the Mutual Assistance Plan, he specified.

More complex cases

Former President of the Quebec Bar Association, Michel Lebrun, expressed dismay at the number of cases the Justice Department’s impact assessment says would be affected. The current president of the association, Marie-Pier Boulet, had not responded to our interview request at the time of writing.

“What Justice Rondeau is addressing is that the cases are more complex [et demandent donc plus de temps aux juges]. And that is an observation that we also made, that we share,” said Mr. Lebrun. In his opinion, the complexity of the files is particularly evident in cases of marital and sexual coercion, “in which the judges make very complex decisions”, which require “much harder work for the judiciary”.

The possible multiplication of “Jordan verdicts” is far from pleasing to him. “A judgment that ends with a stay of proceedings is something like an admission of failure in the management of a particular file. […] For us, the message of the Jordan judgment is that the state must provide the necessary funds,” he argued.

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