Does the right to a trial within a reasonable period of time under Section 11(b) of the Charter apply to re-trial? By J.S. Patel, Calgary Criminal Lawyer

Published On: Jul 26,2018

Section 11(b) of the Charter
Right to a trial within a reasonable period of time and the calculation of delay after a re-trial.

The right to have a trial within a reasonable period of time was reconsidered by the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Jordan, 2016 SCC 27, and there have been many decision considering the principles that stem from that seminal case.   Recently, the Ontario Court of Appeal, in Regina v. MacIsaac,2018 ONCA 650 (CanLII), allowed the appeal of an accused and quashed his conviction of aggravated assault under the Criminal Code of Canada; and stayed the charges against him due to a violation of his rights under Section 11(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the “Charter”).  This was based on the following time-line in that case.

Mr. MacIsaac waswas charged with aggravated assault on July 11, 2012, and he proceed with an election for a trial in the Ontario Court of Justice and was convicted on December 16, 2013.  On August 31, 2015, the Court of Appeal quashed the conviction and ordered a new trial. The accused’s counsel was served with a summons for the re-trial on November 30, 2015. On February 3, 2016, a ten (10) day re-trial was scheduled to run from February 6 to 17, 2017.  On August 25, 2016, the accused applied for a stay under s.11(b). The application was denied on October 26, 2016 and the re-trial went ahead as scheduled.  The trial judge reserved her decision following the last day of trial, which was February 16, 2017. On April 18, 2017, the trial judge released her judgment finding the accused guilty of aggravated assault.

The Ontario Court of Appeal court noted that the case was argued on the assumption that the eighteen (18) month presumptive ceiling established in Regina v. Jordan, 2016 SCC 27, [2016] 1 S.C.R. 631applied to the re-trial. The court stated that it would deal with the appeal on that basis. The court commented, however:

[27]     In my view, the 18-month presumptive ceiling established for a first trial is too long in the circumstances of a re-trial. Re-trials must receive priority in the system, and in the normal course re-trials in the Ontario Court of Justice should occur well before Jordan’s 18-month presumptive ceiling. It may be that a lower presumptive ceiling is appropriate for re-trials.
[28]     We heard no argument on this point and it would not be appropriate to say anything more in the context of this case. This case was argued on the assumption that the 18-month presumptive ceiling applies, and I propose to deal with it on this basis. However, the Jordan criteria must be understood in the context of the Crown’s duty to re-try cases as soon as possible.
[29]     I begin by reviewing the considerations raised by the parties concerning the calculation of delay. I conclude that the delay in this case either exceeds the presumptive 18-month ceiling or is unreasonable in any event. In either case, the appeal must be allowed and a stay must be granted.

What is more, the court also addressed the issue of when the clock starts for the purposes of a delay analysis in the case of a re-trial. The court held that the time for assessing delay runs from the date the appellate court quashed the conviction and ordered a new trial. Accordingly, the clock started running on August 31, 2015.

In terms of determine when the proverbial clock ceases to run, the court averred that the end date for calculating total delay was either April 18, 2017, which is when the judgement was rendered or February 17, 2017, which again, was the last day of trial.  However, given that the factual foundation was not before it, the court stated that it was unnecessary to resolve the issue of whether the time a judgment is under reserve is included in the calculation of total delay. This was because the net delay in the case was unreasonable under either of the above scenarios: (a) First, under the initial scenario, in which reserve time is included, the net delay was over 19 months and exceeded the presumptive ceiling. The Crown had not established the presence of exceptional circumstances that rebut the presumption of unreasonableness. Accordingly, the delay was unreasonable;  Second, (b) under the second scenario, in which the time under reserve is not included in the calculation of delay, the net delay was over seventeen (17) months. Although this net delay was below the presumptive ceiling, the defence had met its burden of showing that the delay was unreasonable.

If you have been charged with a criminal offence, it is important to ensure that sufficient and accurate representations are made on the Court record to ensure that your efforts to proceed in a diligent matter are noted despite the tests outlined by the Supreme Court of Canada in Regina v. Jordan. The common-law rules, as stated in this case, provides an example that depending on the facts of each case, may be useful in persuading the Crown or the Justice  applies to your case.

If you have been charged with a criminal offence, contact Mr. J. S. Patel, Barrister for a free initial consultation regarding your matter.

Call 403-585-1960