4. The Right to Be Tried Within a Reasonable Delay

Court delays have become a chronic problem throughout the world, at the risk of endangering the right to be tried within a reasonable delay. It is not uncommon for defendants to wait months if not years to be tried, sometimes for minor offenses. In addition to defendants being in a limbo, society and victims are also at risk. The problem is made worse in cases where the accused, despite being presumed innocent, is detained without bail. Part of the issue is a financial and logistical one. Chronic under-funding of the judiciary, tough criminal law policies may all concur to create a perfect storm. Part of the problem may also be procedural with certain aspects of trial procedure, particularly in the adversarial tradition, being extremely time consuming. We will seek to evaluate the extent of the problem, look at emerging best practices both domestically, regionally and internationally, as well as try to look at possible remedies. In Canada, the Jordan ruling by the Supreme Court represents a radical and potentially destabilizing effort to drastically reduce delays by putting significant pressure on the Provinces to ensure that these are reduced, or risk certain cases being thrown out.