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Fast tracking cases to trial would be a 'disaster' says Sudbury lawyer

The Ontario government is looking for ways to get cases through the justice system faster. But some work in the courts in Sudbury every day warn that a fast trial doesn't mean it was fair.

Supreme Court ruling last year requires some cases to be wrapped up in 18 months

The Ontario Attorney General is looking for ways to get cases through the court system faster. (Erik White/CBC)
It's hard for John Rimore to tell if the Sudbury courts are moving slower than they used to.

"It's almost become a matter of fact and a normal occurrence that people generally just wait a long time for a trial," says the executive director of the John Howard Society.

"Which causes many folks to plead guilty simply because they want to get out of the Sudbury jail."

Rimore suggests using more community justice programs, where the guilty face consequences without having to go to court.

Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi asked the federal government for help this week in meeting the requirements of the Jordan Decision, which requires superior court cases to be settled within 30 months and 18 months for provincial court matters.

Naqvi also mused about sending more cases right to trial without a preliminary inquiry, where a judge considers the evidence that would be presented at a trial.

Sudbury defence lawyer Glenn Sandberg (Roger Corriveau/CBC)

But Sudbury defence lawyer Glenn Sandberg says those hearings are a good way to weed out cases with weak evidence.

"I think that would be a disaster," says Sandberg. 

"If you take that tool away, cases go right to trial and if they resolve, they resolve at the courtroom door and you've taken up more time, more resources."

Sandberg says he and other Sudbury lawyers are feeling a lot more time pressure since the Jordan Decision last year, which sometimes feels like justice is being rushed.

"The basis of what we do is a fair trial. And a fair trial in a reasonable time is the ideal combination. Sometimes one suffers at the expense of the other," he says.​
 

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