Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Attorney General to Hire More Judges, Lawyers to Shorten Trial Wait Times

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Attorney General to Hire More Judges, Lawyers to Shorten Trial Wait Times

Article excerpt

Ontario hiring judges to shorten trial waits


TORONTO - Ontario will hire more judges, Crown attorneys, duty counsel and court staff to try to shorten the time it takes for criminal cases to get to trial and make sure people aren't awaiting those trials in jail if they don't need to be there.

The hiring announcement comes in the wake of a Supreme Court of Canada ruling in July that a reasonable delay to trial is 18 months for provincial cases and 30 months for cases before the superior court.

The Ontario Crown Attorneys Association recently estimated about 6,000 criminal cases could be stayed or withdrawn in the wake of the ruling.

Attorney General Yasir Naqvi said 13 more provincial judges will be appointed, and Ontario will hire 32 more assistant Crown attorneys, 16 duty counsel and 26 court staff.

"Our criminal courts are bottlenecked," he said. "Daily dockets are jammed and early trial dates are hard to come by. This is not good for anyone. Justice delayed is justice denied for victims, for witnesses, for the accused, for all of us."

In 2014-15 in Ontario, there were 108 successful applications under the charter for cases that were stayed due to violations of an accused's right to be tried within a reasonable time.

Naqvi also announced that three legal experts will provide him with advice as the ministry develops a new Crown policy on bail that will be released within six months. The announcements come with a $25-million price tag.

Naqvi said many accused held in correctional facilities are "vulnerable and are in need of support."

"Many are not a threat to public safety," he said. "They are low risk and simply do not have the supports they need to be out of custody on bail. Holding them in jail places a huge financial burden on the entire justice sector and costs the Ontario taxpayer, who ultimately foots the bill."

On any day in Ontario, nearly two-thirds of the people held in provincial correctional facilities have not been convicted and are awaiting trial. …

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