Accused bikers want speedy trial, prosecutor needs more time

Nine men accused of being involved with criminal biker gang activity were in court Wednesday. Defence lawyer Peter Ghiz said his clients want a speedy trial and he's concerned a shortage of judges on P.E.I. might get in the way.

Defence concerned by shortage of judges

One of the nine accused men covers his face as he enters Charlottetown Provincial Court Wednesday. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

A defence lawyer representing two of nine Island men accused of criminal biker gang activity says he's worried a shortage of judges on P.E.I. could get in the way of accessing a speedy trial.

The nine men appeared in Charlottetown provincial court Wednesday, where the crown prosecutor requested an adjournment until January.

Defence lawyer Peter Ghiz, who represents two of the accused, told court his clients have a constitutional right to trial within a reasonable amount of time. Ghiz specifically cited comments from the P.E.I. Supreme Court that two vacant judges' positions at the Supreme Court level are creating delays.

The nine men were arrested in August. The charges involve alleged participation in a criminal organization, related to a lottery scheme. Police have said the men were members of a so-called Hell's Angels hangaround club.

Wednesday, prosecutor Lisa Goulden requested more time to prepare the case. She told court prosecutors need to examine details of cell phone records of the accused men, and to consult with the Atlantic Lottery Commission. Goulden also said the prosecution is working to line up an expert witness. She did not say what type of expertise.

Lawyer Peter Ghiz is defending two of the accused men. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

One potential cause of delay was sorted out in court Wednesday. Judge John Douglas cleared the way for defence lawyers to meet with more than one client at a time. A court order, issued in August, prevents any communication between the nine men. The judge ruled, at the suggestion of the Crown, that meetings between lawyers and more than one accused client to prepare the court case, are acceptable.

Crown confident trial will be timely

Goulden told CBC News she doubts there will be any problem getting the case to trial in a timely manner.

The case is in provincial court now, but could go on to the Supreme Court level later.

Five of the men told the judge they're still trying to line up lawyers to represent them.

The case is back in court January 22.