Délais Jordan

With this decision, the Court of Appeal adopts the lessons of R. v. J.F. in order to establish whether an unreasonable delay in Jordan’s view can be justified by the exceptional transitional measure. This in itself recognizes that all delays that were considered reasonable the day before Jordan must not automatically become unreasonable the next day.

[T]he delay in presenting the motion and the circumstances surrounding it are certainly important elements to consider since they can help to inform the court about the real objective pursued by the person presenting it. However, they cannot justify, on their own, the decision to summarily dismiss the request[1]. ” [Translated]

Belle-Isle c. R. 2021 QCCA 600

The facts

The appellant, Mr. Belle-Isle, was approached while he was seated in his car at the exit of a bar, around 3:35 AM. At this time, the vehicle was parked and Mr. Belle-Isle was sitting in the driver’s seat, while his engine, headlights and lights were on. The police, noticing the smell of alcohol, ordered the appellant to provide a breath sample through the approved alcohol screening device. The result of the test turns out to be “fail”. Therefore, the police proceed to arrest the appellant. At the end of the first trial, the appellant was found guilty of having the care or control of a motor vehicle while his abilities were impaired by the effects of alcohol. He appealed this decision to the Superior Court, which ordered a new trial. At the opening of this second trial, the appellant presented a motion for a stay of proceedings for unreasonable delays, which was dismissed by the Municipal Court. The appellant is appealing against this decision dismissing the jordan-type motion and the one finding him guilty. Mr. Belle-Isle argues that the trial judge erred in law by dismissing the stay of proceedings for unreasonable delays.

The judgment

The Court of Appeal dismisses the appeal.

The Court of Appeal (hereinafter the “Court”) must repeat the analysis concerning unreasonable delays, given that neither the trial judge nor the Superior Court was able to benefit from the lessons of R. vs. J.F., it must be concluded that there is an error of law. According to Jordan’s teachings, the first step is to determine the total timeframe, from the first appearance until the actual or anticipated conclusion the trial. In this case, the delay was 1,581 days, almost 52 months. Subsequently, the delays attributable to the defense must be deducted. It shows that the net delay was approximately 41 months, which is presumed unreasonable per the ceiling established in Jordan. The trial judge subtracted from the net delay, a period of 17 months which she attributed to exceptional circumstances. The Court showed deference to the trial judge, concluding that no error justifying an intervention was demonstrated. Consequently, a residual period of 24 months remains, perpetuating the presumption of unreasonable delays.

The prosecution invokes the exceptional transitional measure as this is a case that began before the Jordan judgment.  The Court concludes that the parties have come to terms with the slowness of the progress of this case, which, moreover, did not appear to them to be unreasonable according to the prior law. The Court concludes that the exceptional transitional measure is applicable considering the behavior of the parties in the situation. It adds that the late presentation of the motion for a stay of proceedings for unreasonable delays, presented at the new trial by the appellant, militates in favor of the application of this measure.

1 Belle-Isle c. R. 2021 QCCA 600, para 54, citant R. c. Cody, [2017] 1. R.C.S. 659, para 24.

Published on 21/05/2021