Pubdate: Fri, 22 Jul 2005
Source: Coast Reporter (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 Coast Reporter
Author: Ian Jacques, Editor


Our Court System Is Becoming A Joke

We've made the argument many times in this space, pleading for a
change to the way our courts are run. Again this week we make this

The Pender Harbour May Day assault trial will continue next March
after new dates were set this week in provincial court. That's right,
March of 2006, almost two years after the alleged attacks took place.

Last month, after 10 days of evidence, the allocated time for the
trial expired. Victims and members of the community expressed outrage
and frustration after the trial was delayed.

Some were concerned that witnesses in the trial might suffer
repercussions and that they can't feel safe in their own community.
This trial has dragged on and it will drag on for a lot longer. In the
meantime, the memories of witnesses are growing dimmer.

It's frustrating for the accused men as well. We're sure they would
like to get on with their lives. Seeing delay after delay serves no

In recent weeks we've also seen some pretty questionable decisions
handed down in other cases.

In one instance, an alleged crack dealer was granted bail on the heels
of another case where he pleaded guilty in Supreme Court for weapons
charges. The accused was already on bail for two other drug charges.
But despite all that, our court system granted him bail and sent him
back out onto the streets.

How is this right?

This person has a sordid criminal history, and he's still out walking
our streets.

Law enforcement and Crown counsel must be shaking their heads when
judges hand out these decisions.

The time has come for a complete review of our justice system. We as
taxpayers must stand up and start demanding better service from our
court system. Justice, like other essential government services, costs

It would be expensive to provide enough court staff so trials can take
place within a reasonable time, and certainly the expense of running
prisons was a major reason why parliament instructed judges to start
imposing conditional sentences, wherever possible, instead of jail.
But the proper administration of justice is something we should demand
from government.

Too many cases in court, not enough dates to finish trials and
sentences -- that makes no sense. The system is broken and it needs
fixing fast.
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