Charges Stayed following delay of over 20 months

A judicial stay of proceedings has been entered following an unreasonable trial delay in Fort St. John Provincial Court.

The judicial stay was entered in a case involving an impaired driving charge because of an unreasonable trail delay of over 20 months.  The Judge stated the delay was not the fault of neither the Crown or the defence, but due to a lack of judicial or institutional resources.

The judge found that the delay from the time of charge and trial was prejudicial to the accused.
 

In a judgement released this week the Judge Darrell O’Byrne said  "The administrative driving prohibition is a very real prejudice to any accused charged with these offences. The ongoing concern of further loss of driving privileges is a very substantial prejudice to any accused, and the delay of a trial for lack of judicial resources when these driving privileges are at stake is exactly the type of case where a judicial stay of proceedings is the appropriate remedy."
 

He continued by saying  "The limits on the institutional resources, especially judicial resources in the Peace [River region] generally, at Fort St. John in particular, are well known."
 

Another case in Fort St. John Provincial Court was also stayed after it took 17 1/2 months to get to trial.  Judge Michael Brecknell who presided over this case stated "that the scarce judicial resources in this region, the Peace, have been the comment of many learned judges from both the Provincial Court and the Supreme Court over many decades. I also keep in mind the evidence that, in this region, impaired cases take between 10 and 14 months; longer than they should…".

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