Canada’s Supreme Court rules court delays do not carry over from one trial to another

Canada’s Supreme Court says a defendant cannot use delays in a trial as a justification for a stay of proceedings if they are ordered to face a second trial.

Canada’s highest court said in a ruling issued today that when an accused faces a second trial for the same charge, the “constitutional clock” goes back to zero.

The court had to consider the application of the Jordanian ruling of 2016, which set a maximum of 18 months for cases heard by provincial courts and 30 months for higher courts.

Friday’s ruling concerns the case of a Quebec man who was acquitted of seven charges of sexual assault in 2017, but was ordered to stand trial again for errors by the investigating judge.

His first trial lasted more than 72 months and he successfully argued that he had to postpone the proceedings for his second trial because the previous case took too long. The Quebec Court of Appeals confirmed the stay.

But in an 8-1 ruling, the Supreme Court says stopping a second trial based on delays in the first trial would undermine the proper administration of justice.

The court says the man, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, must appear in court again in Quebec.

— This report from The Canadian Press was first published on May 6, 2022.

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