Prelims provide important screening function
It’s “sad and unfortunate” that Ontario gave the green light for prosecutors to ask for a preliminary hearing to be waived and go straight to trial if cases have faced long delays, says Toronto criminal lawyer Matthew Friedberg.
“Preliminary inquiries help lawyers prepare and formulate a case, as well as allow the Crown to weed out weak cases that shouldn’t be before the courts instead of just rolling the dice at trial,” he tells AdvocateDaily.com. “I think they provide an important screening function.”
Friedberg, partner with Caramanna Friedberg LLP, comments on the issue after the Globe and Mail reported prosecutors have been given permission to avoid preliminary inquiries as the government looks to save cases that might be tossed out because they fail to meet new timelines.
The direction is a result of the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) decision, R. v. Jordan, which states that cases before provincial courts must be dealt with in 18 months and those before the Superior Court must be completed in 30 months.