Montreal

Quebec waiting on feds to appoint Superior Court justices to help curb delays

Vallée said the shortage of Superior Court justices is still creating problems in the light of a 2016 Supreme Court ruling that set stringent time limits on cases getting to trial.

Quebec Justice Minister Stephanie Vallée calls on the federal government to appoint 10 new justices

Quebec Justice Minister Stephanie Vallée said the shortage of Superior Court justices is still creating problems in the province. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

Quebec Justice Minister Stephanie Vallée is calling on the federal government to appoint 10 new Superior Court justices in the province in short order.

Vallée said measures taken by the province to curb delays in the justice system are progressing as she announced new projects Tuesday designed to address the case crunch.

But Vallée said the shortage of Superior Court justices is still creating problems in the light of a 2016 Supreme Court ruling that set stringent time limits on cases getting to trial.

Known as the Jordan ruling, it states that legal proceedings can't exceed 18 months in provincial court and 30 months in Superior Court.

Vallée announced she will add up 20 new legal aid lawyers and more than two dozen support staff to that office.

The province will also try to lessen the burden by dejudicializing certain minor infractions through an 18-month pilot project in some courthouses. Under the plan, remedies such as community service would be used instead of incarceration.

In December, Quebec announced it was investing an additional $175 million over four years in the clogged system to recruit new judges, prosecutors and other staff.

895 Jordan-related requests for a stay in Quebec

In Quebec alone, there were 895 Jordan-related requests for a stay of proceedings filed as of late May.

Speaking to reporters at the courthouse in Quebec City on Tuesday, Vallée said the province has added nearly 450 new justice system support staff and is moving forward on hiring new Quebec court judges and opening new courtrooms.

But the lack of Superior Court justices is problematic and she said the 10 additional judges would have considerably cut the number of outstanding cases.

"It would represent about 35 trials before a jury that would have been completed or on the way to being completed,'' Vallée said. "So every day that passes counts.''

Vallée said she'd like an answer from the federal government before the Commons takes its summer break.

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