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CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUES - Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Legal rights - Procedural rights - Delay - Trial within a reasonable time

Tuesday, October 17, 2017 @ 8:56 AM  

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Appeal by the accused, Baron, from a conviction for 28 counts of fraud over $5,000. The accused and two others were implicated in a $3.4 million Ponzi scheme that caused 22 investors to experience losses exceeding $2 million following the scheme's collapse. After the accused was charge, a delay of 59 and one-half months ensued before the trial concluded. An application to stay the proceedings based on a breach of s. 11(b) of the Charter was dismissed. The application judge determined that 18 and one-half months' institutional delay was sufficiently close to the Morin threshold to deny the relief sought. The accused appealed the resultant conviction on the basis the trial judge erred in assessing the unreasonable delay application, and erred in instructing the jury.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. Applying the new Jordan framework to the issue of delay, the 59 and one-half months delay was justified. The net delay, factoring in delay caused by the defence was 35 months. The delay was explainable by the complexity of the case, the number of accused, the sophistication of the fraud and the voluminous disclosure. The complexity of the case hindered the ability of the accused to retain new counsel during the proceedings. The Crown took all reasonable steps to keep the case moving toward trial. In addition, the transitional exceptional circumstance was applicable given the reliance of the parties and the trial judge on the Morin framework. The Morin framework was properly applied by the application judge, who gave a detailed review of the record and provided clear reasons for the conclusions reached. This case was not within the narrow category of cases for which a stay was warranted. The trial judge's jury instructions were fair, even-handed and dealt appropriately with individual pieces of evidence.

R. v. Houle (appeal by Baron), [2017] O.J. No. 5170, Ontario Court of Appeal, E.E. Gillese, G. Huscroft and G.T. Trotter JJ.A, October 5, 2017. TLD-October162017003