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Campbell River courts are too slow

Four charges related to impaired driving are dismissed due to Campbell River’s bogged down courts.

“This court is overbooked. We cannot handle trials in a timely manner,” Judge Brian Saunderson told court on Monday.

Jeffrey Lepage was charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, care or control of a vehicle while impaired, care or control of vehicle with a blood alcohol reading of over .08, and driving while prohibited/license suspended.

However, he was charged 763 days or just over two years before he received a stay of proceedings on all four charges on Monday.

Lepage appeared in court on Fri. Oct. 14 and said he just wanted to finish up in court so he could move on.

“It’s just been dragging on and on,” said Lepage.

“I would’ve like to have this wrapped up quicker so I can get on with my life.”

Crown prosecutor John Boccabella listed delays caused by the defense, and defense attorney Doug Marion listed delays caused by the Crown. Some delays were caused by the way the court system functions, like when cases are bumped back due to more pressing matters such as in custody hearings.

In total, Lepage was due to appear in court on these charges 13 or 14 times in over two years, Marion told court.

He appeared seven or eight times, as sometimes Marion appeared on his behalf, and on one instance Lepage said he got the date mixed up on his calendar.

“We live in an environment where judicial resources are clearly being strained,” Marion told court on Oct. 14.

“The system is in risk of losing its credibility to the public.

“This case should be stayed; that’s the only way credibility will be preserved.”

Marion then cited numerous cases that were stayed in similar circumstances.

Saunderson said he needed some time to think it over, and returned to announce a stay of proceedings on Monday.

“I find that the delay has been unreasonable,” said Saunderson, adding that things have changed since Campbell River used to have two Judges presiding at a time, but now has only one.

Outside of court Marion said that he has had about 10 stays of proceedings relating to court delays in the last six to eight months.

 

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