Monday, November 10, 2008

Judge Slams Bail Delays

Deep systemic problems in Durham Region courts mean prisoners routinely face unreasonable delays while awaiting bail hearings, a judge ruled as he dismissed charges against a man facing domestic assault charges.

In his written reasons, Justice Joseph De Filippis, of the Ontario Court of Justice, quoted from a justice of the peace, who said that the crowded bail court docket in Durham "staggers human endurance."

De Filippis ruled that a clogged court system meant Daniel Jevons, 60, of Oakville spent far too long in custody awaiting a bail hearing after being arrested in August 2007.

Under the Criminal Code, accused people must appear before a judicial officer within 24 hours and have a bail hearing within three days thereafter, unless they consent to a delay.

Jevons was held in jail for eight days before his bail hearing.

Jevons, who had no criminal record, was charged with being unlawfully in a dwelling and criminal harassment for an alleged incident with a former girlfriend.

"The defendant feared he might never be released before trial," the judge wrote. "That fear was not unreasonable. What is not reasonable are the resources allocated to bail hearings in Durham Region."

Charges against Jevons were dropped last month, but the judge only released his reasons this week.

The decision came after defence lawyer Boris Bytensky disputed Crown figures about backlogs in Durham Region bail court.

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