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R. v. Myers 2019 SCC 18 -Decision from the Supreme Court of Canada on Thursday March 28, 2019

R. v. Myers 2019 SCC 18 (Link to Case)

 

In a unanimous decision of nine Justices of the Supreme Court of Canada on Thursday March 28, 2019, the Court held in R. v. Myers 2019 SCC 18 that accused persons in custody should have a review of their bail every 90 days in the case of indictable offences and 30 days in the case of summary offences.  The Court provided a profound Judgement that reaffirms the strength of the presumption of innocence when judges are considering whether someone should be out of custody while awaiting trial.

On October 18, 2018 Justin Vladimir Myers, Lawrence D. Myers Q.C. and Zack Myers made the journey to Ottawa for this appeal on the proper interpretation of section 525 of the Criminal Code, a section that was put in place in 1972 with the enactment of the Bail Reform Act.

If an Accused person’s trial has not commenced 90 days after the later of them coming into custody, being detained following a breach or revocation of bail, or following a defence or Crown initiated review of the first bail hearing; a judicial review of the accused’s detention must occur in a superior court.

The Crown has always advanced the two step which states that the Accused must establish an unreasonable delay in their matter coming to trial and then they will be entitled to a bail review.

Justin had always advanced the one step approach that 90 days is 90 days and that the accused must have a bail review, during which the Judge may consider whether there has been any unreasonable delay in bringing the matter to trial.

Justin started arguing this issue on the proper interpretation about 5 years ago, where there was national divergence in the appropriate interpretation.  These hearings are always held in Supreme Court, cannot be appealed to the Court of Appeal, and an appeal could only be heard in the Supreme Court of Canada once it was established that it is an issue of national importance.  In February of 2018, Justin wrote an application to the Court to establish this was an issue of national importance, the Crown contested the application.  Justin had previously written one other application to the Court on the same issue with a different case and the application did not succeed.  In the Spring of 2018 the Court granted Justin’s application.

The Court in its judgement on Thursday allowed the appeal and upheld the one step approach.  The Court reaffirmed the purpose of section 525 was to “prevent accused persons from languishing in custody and to ensure a prompt trial.”  The Court reiterated the fundamental importance of the presumption of innocence,  and how that should influence decisions on pre-trial release particularly with respect to the right not to be denied reasonable bail, and explained how release or detention affects the ultimate outcome of the proceedings and ultimately the integrity of the justice system.  The Court observed the high incidence of vulnerable sectors of the population in pre-trial custody, the inherent difficulties in being able to adequately make full answer and defence when detained on a charge pending trial, and the greater likelihood of induced guilty pleas following a detention order.  The Court noted that the delays in having these detention review hearings addressed by the Court was a manifestation of the culture of complacency pronounced in Jordan.

The Court held that the legislation was clear that accused persons should have reviews of their detention every 90 days for indictable matters and 30 days for summary matter, and there should not be a threshold requirement read in since that is not what the legislation says.  The Court held this position a being consistent with the Court’s previous pronouncements and views in other landmark cases, “a liberal and enlightened system of pre-trial release.”

The accused has no relation to counsel.

https://www.scc-csc.ca/case-dossier/cb/2019/37869-eng.aspx

https://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/17634/index.do

 

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