Even if the federal government appoint new judges in Alberta, a Calgary defence lawyer says it could be months before trial backlogs are cleared up in the province.
Already a murder case has been stayed and lawyers for four robbery suspects are seeking to have their cases thrown out because of the time its taking to get them to trial.
The family of Shannon Madill, a Calgary woman murdered in 2014 is concerned about the trial of her accused-Joshua Burgess.
His murder trial is expected to begin in February 2018.
Madill’s sister Erin tells Global News that the Supreme Court’s recent decision on court delays has weighed on them.
“Initially we were really concerned because when we did the math and realized he wouldn’t be going to trial until 32 months after he was arrested, it made us wonder if that was going to fall within that 30 month rule that they have now set down. I’ve been assured that it shouldn’t since it’s his defence lawyer who has delayed the trial.
Calgary defence lawyer Balfour Der says Alberta simply needs more judges.
“While there is physical space in the court houses, there just aren’t enough judges to occupy all these rooms, to put judges in the rooms so the cases can proceed.”
The federal government has hinted that more judge appointments will be made to try to deal with the long court delays in Alberta, but some, like Der fear that this is only the beginning of cases being tossed out.
“There’s got to be a period, I foresee of at least a half-a-year going forward for a year, where there’s nothing that’s going to be able to do about those cases. There’s nothing that can be done to speed those cases up,” Der said. “It’s a possibility that any accused, regardless of the charge, will have their charges stayed because of delay.”