As a response to the increased pressure from the landmark decision of the Supreme Court of Canada, in R v Jordan, Manitoban courts have passed new policies that they hope will mitigate the immense ramifications this decision brought with it.
In Jordan, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that delays in the start of trial exceeding 30 months were in violation of s 11(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As a result, many cases, including very serious crimes, were being dismissed as a result of this finding. In the hopes of stopping this from detrimentally impacting Manitobans, the court implemented a rule requiring an accused to sign away their rights under s 11(b) or to find a new lawyer.
The Criminal Defence Lawyers’ Association of Manitoba is not happy with this direction. Scott Newman, a spokesperson for the group, states,
“that [the concern is] judges are going to be so strictly interpreting these issues on delay that they’re going to be telling defence lawyers that we can’t act and they’re going to be interpreted in a way that means that people are going to be stripped of one right to satisfy another”
The end result will be a choice between being tried within a reasonable time or being forced to find a new lawyer, or worse, self-litigating.
The Chief Justice of Manitoba Glenn Joyal, chose not to speculate as to what could happen. He stated that decisions needed to be made on a case by case basis. He did state that this was the best possible response to the Jordan decision because if defence attorneys were going to set a date for trial beyond the 30 month period, the client had to waive his or her right to a Charter claim.
This blog post was written by a CCLA-PBSC RightsWatch student. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the view of the CCLA or PBSC.