Man held without bail for 36 hours files class-action lawsuit

A man arrested in Edmonton in April of last year and held in custody without a bail hearing for more than 36 hours is seeking the right to launch a class-action lawsuit against the Alberta government.

Statement of claim alleges thousands of accused were not provided a bail hearing within 24 hours

Ryan Reilly's criminal charges were eventually stayed by an Edmonton judge who determined that his Charter rights had been violated. (CBC)

A man arrested in Edmonton last April and held in custody without a bail hearing for more than 36 hours is seeking the right to launch a class-action lawsuit against the Alberta government. 

Ryan Reilly filed the statement of claim in Calgary's Court of Queen's Bench on May 2.

People arrested in Alberta after February 3, 2017, and denied a bail hearing within 24 hours could join the lawsuit.

"Alberta has failed, and continues to fail, to provide thousands of accused with bail hearings conducted within 24 hours of arrest and detention," according to the court document. 

"Alberta's systemic failure in providing the Class with a bail hearing within a reasonable time constitutes cruel and unusual punishment."

The Criminal Code enshrines that "an accused shall be taken before an available justice without unreasonable delay, in any event, within 24 hours of arrest," according to the statement of claim.

The claim has not been proven in court, and no statement of defence has been filed. 

Charges stayed 

Reilly was arrested in a domestic violence incident on April 4, 2017, by the Edmonton police. 

He was charged with aggravated assault, unlawful confinement, assault, mischief and failure to comply with a probation order.

According to the statement of claim, Reilly was held in a dirty, brightly lit cell, with no blankets or cot, for more than 36 hours. 

By the time of his bail hearing, the plaintiff "was sleep deprived, and was ready to agree to almost any conditions to be released from detention," said the court document.

The charges were eventually stayed by a judge who determined that Reilly's Charter rights had been violated during his 36-hour detention.

Bail system overhaul 

In the statement of claim, Reilly claims that delays in the province's bail system were compounded after changes were introduced to the way bail hearings were conducted. 

A review of the bail system was initiated after RCMP Const. David Wynn was killed in January 2015 by a man who had been released on bail, despite having a lengthy criminal record.

At the time, police officers represented the Crown and conducted bail hearings 24 hours a day. A judge ruled that the practice was illegal in February 2017. 

Since August 2017, bail hearings have been conducted with a prosecutor present, from 8 a.m. to midnight.

"Alberta had designed an unlawful bail hearing regime, and it later failed to correct its unlawful regime," Reilly said in his statement of claim.

The court document alleges that the province should have foreseen the risk that people under arrest would suffer harm by "not having adequate availability of prosecutors to conduct bail hearings." 

Reilly is seeking $100 million in damages.