Minister Justice Suzanne Anton announced yesterday the number of cases dismissed because of backlog have gone from 120 in 2012 to 13 this year in B.C.
But the province is still dealing with a shortage of judges.
Local Criminal lawyer Ryan Johnson says there’s no doubt backlog is being pushed through much faster, but there’s still issues, especially at the provincial level.
“What’s happening in the court system right now is they have an assignment court for trial, and routinely, even though your matter has been set down for trial for 8, 10 or 12 months, and there is supposed to be a judge assigned to your trial, they are only giving from the assignment court only two judges if there is four trials, and only two of them will go down, because they don’t have enough judges to actually assign.”
He says the issue is found mainly on the Main Street court house in Vancouver.
“It contributes to cases that go into delay for second trial dates, it causes significant hardship to clients because they’ve been waiting and counting on a certain court date to have resolution of the matter at time and we get there and there isn’t a judge available.”
He says there’s still too many empty seats on a provincial level, but he adds getting a second court date is quicker than it used to be.
In 2012, a report penned by Vancouver lawyer Geoffrey Cowper called for a major overhaul in the criminal justice system.