Appeal court approves speeding ticket court battle

A request to appeal a March 2017 decision by Justice Vic Toews that saw a Winnipeg woman's speeding ticket reinstated after it had been previously thrown out by a lower-court judge due to unreasonable delays, was approved by the Manitoba court of appeal.

Precedent-setting ticket decision back in court after being overturned by Justice Vic Toews

On Nov. 3, 2014, Genevieve Grant was issued a school-zone speeding ticket for an alleged infraction that occurred on Oct. 27, 2014. (Brett Purdy/CBC)

A Winnipeg woman's all-but-dead court battle over a speeding ticket is once again showing signs of life.

On Tuesday, the Manitoba Court of Appeal approved a request to appeal a March 2017 decision by Justice Vic Toews that saw a ticket reinstated after it had been previously thrown out by a lower-court judge due to unreasonable delays.

Justice Diana Camera wrote in her decision that "there exists tension between the weight to be assigned to the simplicity of the prosecution of offences, such as the one in this case, and the allocated institutional resources."

She concluded that in light of the fact trial judges have been interpreting new guidelines recently set out by the Supreme Court of Canada differently, it is the Court of Appeal's job to "settle the law."

Win then lose

On Nov. 3, 2014, Genevieve Grant was issued a school-zone speeding ticket for an alleged infraction that occurred on Oct. 27, 2014. After she plead not-guilty, a trial date was set for April 27, 2016 — almost a year and half later.

In May 2016, provincial court Justice Mary Kate Harvie set a precedent by staying the charge.

"I find that the unexplained delay in producing the appropriate disclosure to both Crown and defence counsel to be very concerning," Harvie wrote in her decision. "The delay in the prosecution of this matter is unreasonable."
Manitoba Justice Vic Toews overturned a decision to stay the ticket in March. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

However, last March, Court of Queen's Bench judge Vic Toews overturned the lower court decision and determined that delay was not unreasonable.

Toew's decision leaned heavily on a recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling dubbed "the Jordan decision" from July 2016. This landmark decision established for the first time clear limits for what constitutes a reasonable delay: 18 months for provincial court matters and 30 months for federal court.

Since Grant's trial delay was exactly 18 months less eight days, Justice Toews wrote "I find in this case that there is no evidence that the case took markedly longer than it reasonably should have."

Questions at hand

A new trial date has yet to be set. However, the appeal will generally focus on answering the following questions:

  • Did Justice Toews misapply the framework established by the R v. Jordan decision for determining whether or not Ms. Grant's Charter right to a speedy trial was breached?
  • Since the R v. Jordan decision occurred after the offence, but before the initial trial, did Justice Toews correctly apply the transitional provisions designed to handle cases that overlap the pre- and post-Jordan era?
  • Did Justice Toews properly assess what was considered a reasonable institutional delay for Manitoba under the pre-Jordan framework?