Re: “Courts in crisis,” The Leader, March 18.
I read this article while my blood boiled.
Consider the case now in a B.C. court of a woman beaten and almost strangled to death.
The accused, who faces charges including assault causing bodily harm and uttering threats, a serious charge, has three times failed to show up for court appearances, only to be arrested and again and then released on bail to walk free.
This case is now in danger of being tossed. Are no-shows like these a strategy to use the clogged court system to get serious charges dropped?
Shouldn’t we hold chronic system abusers in jail until their trial – at least in cases where they’ve skipped out repeatedly?
The problem is threefold: a chronically underfunded system in one of the wealthiest provinces in Canada; judges who are more than likely reluctant to incarcerate such abusers due to the costs of incarceration and lack of space to house them (ever hear of a work-farm or tent-prison?); and a system that for some reason has to set a date just to set a date for trial.
Why wouldn’t we just send an accused a notice that they are to be in court for trial on such and such a date? Or how about using our sheriffs to personally notify such accused of their impending court date? Or how about notifying their employers that they are required to be given time off from work to attend court? Seems too easy.
It is lunacy and much of it can be addressed by trimming the procedural nonsense inside the system as well as our provincial government giving the courts the funds it so desperately requires to do the job of trying these accused and usually chronic offenders.
It’s really not that complicated, is it? I have read that a sitting judge and staff to support them costs $1 million per year. In this province, we can’t afford $15 million per year more from our budget to alleviate this problem and see justice served by immediately adding 15 more judges? How about 10 only then?
Sounds like a simple solution for our new premier who touts “family first”. Of course, family first wouldn’t mean tolerating domestic abuse, would it?
I mean it isn’t it a serious crime when a woman is beaten, loses her residence and possessions and has to live with practically none of her own belongings awaiting the trial of her attacker for well over a year?
Dan Anders, Surrey
When can we expect closure?
Thank you to reporter Jeff Nagel for writing this article (“Courts in crisis”).
Our son was killed in November 2009 by an impaired driver. The accused was charged in August 2010. We have been notified by the court that a preliminary inquiry will not occur until March 2012. We have expressed our concern regarding the risk of unreasonable delay to the Crown counsel and to date have not had a reply.
Our experience with the court system has been disappointing one. Our dead son is relegated to a number in the system. Crown counsel does not communicate any more to us than available through the court registry.
Unlike the accused we have attended all appearances and experienced the delays with mounting frustration. Most were at the request of defense. One was because the assigned Crown counsel had gone on vacation.
As victims of this crime we have no recourse other than to rely on the Crown. We have no advocate to represent our interests in respect to avoiding delays. We the victims of this crime have no Charter rights regarding delay of trial.
Due to the serious nature of the charges against the accused we have petitioned the Attorney General to proceed by direct indictment. This normally has to be a request from the Crown Counsel but we are desperate.
To date the accused has spent one night in jail and had a 90 day driving suspension. Every day this person goes without trial is an affront to our son’s life and our society. Every day we are reminded of our son’s death and suffer the anguish of delays and uncertainty. Where is the justice? When can we expect closure?
I’m sure we are not the only family in this situation. Please continue to educate the public and demand answers from our government.