The number of criminal cases at risk of being thrown out over “unreasonable delays” in the court process continues to grow in Alberta.
A Supreme Court of Canada ruling earlier this year set new rules for how long a case can take from start to finish. The decision is called R vs. Jordan and any applications made citing its time guidelines are now called “Jordan applications.” There are now a total of seven “Jordan applications” pending in Alberta. Five of those are Calgary cases.
Jason Harron is the latest accused who could walk free if his Charter motion is successful. Harron was charged with a long string of offences, including criminal negligence causing bodily harm, after an incident with police in northwest Calgary in May of 2013.
Two seniors were hit by an SUV outside a Crowfoot bank and Harron ended up being blinded after he was shot by police. Now he’s asking for the charges to be stayed, citing unreasonable delays in the case. Harron is a career criminal and has been charged with more than 100 offences in Calgary; everything from assault with a weapon to drug trafficking. He has multiple convictions for property and weapons related crimes.
Also at risk is the case against Henry Le Nguyen, accused of conspiracy to commit murder. Police Chief Roger Chaffin tells Global News, “These are some very serious cases and putting people back on the street that probably should have been in jail is very detrimental to the idea of public safety.”
Police officers are working closely with their partners at Alberta Justice to move cases along more efficiently in an attempt to stop any more cases from being thrown out. Earlier this month, a first-degree murder case was stayed after it took more than five years to go to trial. Chaffin says, “It’s very chaotic right now and it’s going to be problematic for the community and police here for a little bit here until we get control of it.” He said police are trying to get some insight into what cases are at greatest risk. “When we start to see the individual cases come up it’s alarming. We can believe it will start impacting public confidence in the justice system as we work through his.”
Two other murder cases are now at risk in the province: one is the 2014 murder of Susan Elko. Scott Monroe Ferguson has been ordered to stand trial for second-degree murder. His lawyer has now filed a Jordan application. The other is the Calgary case of three men convicted in the swarming death of 18-year-old Lukas Strasser-Hird.
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