Allot more resources to bail courts in Ontario: Friedberg
By Matthew Friedberg
I recently read the article about Marian Andrzejewski in the National Post. This article is illustrative of many shortcomings in our judicial system.
One which is far too common: delays in obtaining bail.
As all persons accused of a crime in Canada are presumed innocent, the Charter of Rights guarantees all people the right to reasonable bail.
It is unconscionable that Mr. Andrzejewski spent 75 days in custody prior to obtaining his release. Pre-trial release is so fundamental to our law that it actually requires that all accused people be taken to bail court within 24-hours of being charged.
I am not suggesting that this man wasn’t taken to bail court within 24 hours; I’m simply saying that something went wrong in that he had to spend 75 days in custody prior to being released. Hopefully, the police investigation will discover what happened and the mistake will not be repeated.
Cases like these reflect very poorly on our justice system and those involved in it. While this man may want to pursue a civil action for the 75 days he spent in custody, most people acquitted after trial don’t or can’t. Indeed, many accused people lose years of their lives in pre-trial detention and even if acquitted later, have no recourse for their pre-trial detention. That is why it is so imperative that people who are eligible for bail obtain their release as soon as possible.
Part of the solution is to allot more resources to the bail courts in our province. Regrettably, it is not uncommon for an accused to wait many days to just get court time for a bail hearing.
Another piece of the puzzle is to have more attention paid by all stakeholders in criminal cases to the bail/intake process of a case. Hopefully in the future, those who are eligible for bail will not have to wait for what should be immediate.
The presumption of innocence demands this of our legal system.