Canada's Supreme Court rules court delays don't carry over from one trial to the next

The Supreme Court of Canada is seen in Ottawa on Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

The Supreme Court of Canada says a defendant cannot use court delays in one trial as justification for a stay of proceedings if they are ordered to stand trial a second time.

Canada's highest court said in a ruling issued today that when an accused stands trial for a second time on the same charge, the "constitutional clock" reverts back to zero.

The court had to consider the application of its 2016 Jordan ruling, which set a maximum ceiling of 18 months for cases heard by provincial courts and 30 months in superior courts.

Friday's ruling involves the case of a Quebec man who was acquitted on seven sexual assault charges in 2017 but who was ordered to stand trial again because of errors made by the trial judge.

His first trial took more than 72 months to complete, and he argued successfully that he should receive a stay of proceedings for his second trial because the previous case took too long. Quebec's Court of Appeal confirmed the stay.

But in a 8-1 ruling, the Supreme Court says that stopping a second trial based on delays in the first trial would undermine the sound administration of justice.

The court says the man, whose identity is protected under a publication ban, must stand trial again in Quebec court.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2022.

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