Terrace returns to the top 10 cities in B.C. for court wait times

It takes an average of nine months to get to the start of an adult criminal two-day trial in Terrace, B.C.

Terrace has returned to a spot among the top 10 cities in the province with a longer than acceptable delay in time to get to a provincial court trial.

That’s according to the latest update to the Time to Trial report, dated March 31, that sees Terrace take nine months to get to the start of an adult criminal two-day trial when the provincial standard, as set out by the Office of the Chief Judge, is eight months.

It puts the city in second place tied with Kitimat and Chetwynd.

For child protection hearings, time to trial sees Terrace at four months to get to the start of a case conference and to get to a half day trial.

The standard is two months from initial document filing to the case conference date and three months from the case conference to the first available half-day trial.

Terrace shows up in the top spot for small claims trials at nine months to get from the settlement conference to a two day or more trial.

That puts Terrace tied with Robson Square, the main court complex in downtown Vancouver.

The standard for small claims is six months from the settlement conference to the first available date for a two day or more trial.

The standards used by the chief judge were developed by the court in 2005 as a benchmark, taking into account the law set out by the Supreme Court of Canada as to what is considered an unreasonable delay under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“I note that while the Terrace adult two-day trial delay was nine months as of March 31, 2014, that is one month above the standard created by the Office of the Chief Judge,” said Gene Jamieson, legal officer for the Office of the Chief Judge.

“It is also is a significant improvement from 2008 when Terrace had a 12-month delay for adult two-day trials.”

Through the second half of 2010 and first half of 2011, this delay grew to 13-15 months, he added.

In late 2012, Terrace’s delay for lengthy criminal trials began to decrease and through 2013 and the first half of 2014, the delay remained quite steady at eight to nine months (nine months as of March 31, 2014), said Jamieson.

When Justice Delayed: A Report of the Provincial Court of BC Concerning Judicial Resources, was first released, as of September 30, 2010, Terrace was in first place with a 15 month delay to get to trial for adult criminal half-day trials and in second place for adult criminal two-day trials, also with 15 months.

In the first example, Terrace was tied with Surrey and in the second, Terrace was tied with Dawson Creek.

The city didn’t get any new judges from 2009 to 2013, although local prosecutor Terence Wright was appointed to the bench in 2012 in Smithers and has sat in Terrace.

Judge Calvin Struyk was appointed in March 2008 to replace Ed de Walle who had moved to Salmon Arm in September 2007, after 16 years on the bench here.

From 1991 to 2004, Terrace had two sitting judges.

When Judge Paul Lawrence retired in 2004, he left the city with one sitting judge, which has continued through 2014.

 

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