A Surrey man should face a trial even though charges against him — first laid five years ago — were halted by a provincial court judge because his right to a timely trial was violated, B.C.’s top court says.

The Court of Appeal said the lower court judge wrongly calculated the length of the delay by including more than two years after a stay of proceedings issued so police could investigate further.

The three-justice division unanimously decided the Charter of Rights and Freedoms provision guaranteeing a trial within a reasonable time did not apply if an individual was not formally charged.

“The existence of an ongoing investigation after the stay of an original information, whether known to the accused or not, does not create an exception to that general principle in the absence of an element of illegitimacy or manipulation that would properly engage section 11(b) interests and the concerns addressed in Jordan,” Justice Christopher Grauer writes.

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Heather Campbell Pope, founder of Dementia Justice Canada, has been approved under a new Law Society of B.C. program to provide legal help to those suffering with the disorder and their families.

Through phone consultations and emails from southern Ontario, Campbell Pope will offer guidance, advocacy support and research to assist unrepresented individuals with dementia and others to navigate the courts and legal proceedings.

She will be able to advocate via letters to the Crown, correctional authorities, care homes and health authorities, or custodians of health information, regarding access to records.

The legal regulator has also authorized the non-practising lawyer to carry out legal research, write memos, prepare documents for human rights complaints, draft appeal proposals and apply for compassionate release.

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The B.C. legal system was caught flat-footed in many ways by the COVID outbreak last year, but it responded to the crisis with some long-overdue improvements such as the northern bail pilot project.

Championed by Provincial Court Chief Judge Melissa Gillespie, the initiative to conduct virtual bail hearings rather than transporting accused persons from small towns to Prince George is getting encouraging reviews.

“But there is a lot of work to be done,” cautioned David Griffiths, manager of Criminal, Immigration and Appeals at Legal Aid B.C. “It has the potential to be a real benefit for everybody. … The way we did it before is if you were in Fort St. James or Vanderhoof and the court wasn’t sitting that day, you were likely going to be driven to Prince George, and that was a one-way ticket. When you got released, you were released in Prince George and nobody was driving you back home. That wasn’t a benefit for anybody.”

For Indigenous people from a remote community, the experience could be disorienting, exacerbate personal challenges, and result in those without much worldly wisdom being preyed upon in the city.

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B.C.’s legal watchdog has done a welcome about-face after a half-decade of persecuting a Victoria man for offering cheap legal services by surprisingly telling him that they might like him to keep it up.

A pleased Jeremy Maddock says he has become part of the Law Society of B.C.‘s “innovation sandbox” program adopted by the governing benchers to improve the delivery of legal services in the province.

“I am obviously frustrated about the amount of time this has taken, and the fact they forced me out of business for a year rather than consenting to a stay pending appeal,” Maddock conceded. “That said, I am cautiously optimistic that the debate has shifted since then to recognize the value of alternative legal services as a means of meeting demand that lawyers can’t.”

A year ago, the professional regulator won an injunction in B.C. Supreme Court to stop Maddock from working for lawyers or helping people in traffic court.

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Read The Full Article In The Vancouver Sun