The number of cases over 18 months old before B.C. Provincial Court has climbed 16 per cent to 2

Congested courts put more cases at risk

Worsening backlog may set more accused free

More than half of all B.C. Provincial Court cases have been stuck in the system for at least a year and a growing number are at risk of being thrown out as a result.

Those are among the findings of a new update to the B.C. Provincial Court’s Justice Delayed report, which originally warned of serious delays in the system last fall.

The update shows there were 2,371 adult criminal cases before the courts for more than 18 months as of March 31– a 16 per cent increase from 2,038 a year earlier.

Criminal cases 12 to 18 months old climbed 18 per cent over the same period from 4,856 to 5,744.

Together, the two categories make up just over half of the court’s entire caseload.

Judges are bound by Supreme Court of Canada rulings on how long cases can drag on and trials are being quashed over unacceptable delays of as little as 14 months, depending on the circumstances.

The average delay across B.C. for a two-day criminal trial in March was 10.6 months, slightly worse than nine months earlier, although the stats show some improvement in the waits for child protection hearings, small claims trials and family law trials.

But the numbers vary considerably depending on the court house.

Surrey remains the worst for adult criminal cases, with a 16-month wait for a two-day trial.

Fort St. John, Chilliwack, Terrace, Vancouver (Main Street), Kelowna and Vernon were all booking two-day criminal trials at least 13 months away.

The longest delays for child protection hearings (13 to 15 months) were in Cranbrook, Abbotsford, Chilliwack and Terrace, while delays of 14 to 15 months were being recorded for family trials in Fort St. John, Cranbrook, Abbotsford and Chilliwack.

The original report recommended B.C. move to restore the number of Provincial Court judges from 126.3 full-time equivalents (FTEs) in September 2010 to the 2005 level of 143.6.

While a few new judges have been hired since the initial report, others have retired, been promoted to B.C. Supreme Court or opted to start to cut their hours to part-time.

As a result, the number of judges is now 125.1 FTEs as of the end of June, about 15 per cent fewer than in 2005 despite more cases of greater complexity.

The province passed a budget this spring requiring further cuts to court staffing.

Just Posted

West Kootenay RCMP charge man with impaired driving in school zone

Sgt. Chad Badry reports on impaired drivers and other high risk offences

Company granted leave to appeal Lemon Creek charges

Executive Flight Centre won a decision in the BC Court of Appeal

Extensive smoke, heat damage to Castlegar home after fire on Friday

One occupant suffered burns after fleeing house with pet

Cyclist struck in Castlegar

Morning mishap at gas station on Columbia

Kaslo bus fueled by vegetable oil to begin service next month

Mountain Man Mike’s will run routes to Vancouver and eventually Edmonton

Killer of Calgary mother, daughter gets no parole for 50 years

A jury found Edward Downey guilty last year in the deaths of Sara Baillie, 34, and five-year-old Taliyah Marsman

Toddler seriously injured after falling from Okanagan balcony

RCMP are investigating after a two-year-old boy fell from the balcony of an apartment in Kelowna

Cost jumps 35% for Trans-Canada Highway widening in B.C.

Revelstoke-area stretch first awarded under new union deal

Is vegan food a human right? Ontario firefighter battling B.C. blaze argues it is

Adam Knauff says he had to go hungry some days because there was no vegan food

Winds helping in battle against fire threatening northern Alberta town

Nearly 5,000 people have cleared out of High Level and nearby First Nation

B.C. sends 267 firefighters to help battle Alberta wildfires

Out of control fires have forced evacuations in the province

Calgary Police looking for missing man who may be heading to B.C.

A man last seen on May 15 in Calgary may be heading to the Kootenay region, according to police

LETTER: Fletcher ‘blurs reality’ on B.C. union public construction

Bridge, highway projects awarded to companies, not unions

Most Read