When the Supreme Court holds its first hearing in Winnipeg today, the panel of high-court justices will consider the role judges play in causing court delays across Canada.
The Supreme Court is hearing cases outside of Ottawa for the first time in its 144-year history.
On Wednesday, September 25, Kathy Bueti, a Winnipeg defence lawyer, is to appear in front of the Supreme Court to argue the only Manitoba case the judges will hear during their historic visit.
A man known only as K.G.K. was charged with sexual interference (touching someone under 16 in a sexual way). He was also charged with invitation to sexual touching (asking someone under 16 to touch someone else in a sexual way).
According to Canadian law, these charges should have been decided within 30 months. The day before the judge found him guilty, K.G.K. asked for the trial to be stopped. He said it had taken too long.
The trial had taken over 42 months from the time police charged him to the judge’s decision. It took the judge nine months to decide the case and give the decision. K.G.K. said this was longer than the 30-month maximum, and there was nothing unusual in his case that could justify it. The Crown (the prosecution) argued that the time taken was justified. It said the judge’s decision-making time didn’t count toward the time limit.
The landmark 2016 Jordan decision set strict trial timelines that were aimed at speeding up criminal cases and getting rid of severe backlogs within courts.
The Supreme Court will hear the case that asks whether judges should be held accountable for the time they spend reaching their decisions.