Costly mega-trials to be streamlined

A 2008 Ontario review of criminal trials found the broadening of evidence rules, Charter of Rights and Freedoms motions, and a flurry of new laws from Parliament was resulting in significant delays and unnecessarily high court costs. And so a new Conservative government bill designed to streamline often unwieldy and expensive mega-trials is on its way to becoming law. The bill has received renewed interest after a Quebec Superior Court judge threw out charges against 31 alleged members of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang, explaining the justice system simply couldn’t handle the cases in an expedient manner. Quebec Superior Court Justice James Brunton ordered the release of the accused bikers, who were rounded up as part of a police operation in 2009. He stated he was not releasing the men over questions of guilt or innocence, but because the justice system was unable to provide the labour needed to try the bikers rounded up in the massive police crackdown. “This legislation will provide the tools needed to help streamline large, complicated cases, so there will be fewer delays, reduced risk of mistrials and decreased costs to taxpayers,” Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said Monday.

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