Case dismissed because it took too long to go to court
AMHERST – A speeding fine was tossed out of Amherst Provincial Court on Wednesday after the recipient successfully argued waiting for the matter to go to court violated his Charter rights.
George Edward Kalinowski was stopped near Saltsprings, between Springhill and Amherst, on Feb. 17, 2012, and issued a ticket for speeding between 1 and 15 km/hr more than the posted limited. His ticket contained the note he was required to either plead guilty and pay the fine, or notify the court he intended to appear in court.
Kalinowski chose the latter.
In the judge’s decision, released Thursday, Judge Paul B. Scovil summarized, “In relation to the facts, they are fairly straightforward. The accused was stopped and ticketed for a violation…the applicant appeared in New Glasgow Provincial Court’s administrative office and filed a notice of intention to plead not guilty and have a trial. The first date available was set, which was for today, some 12 months and 19 days later.”
And therein lay the rub.
Kalinowski argued the delay violated his charter right to be tried within a reasonable amount of time, which Scovil ultimately agreed with.
“These normally take, from a court perspective, probably an average of nine to ten minutes to call evidence and then, depending on the nature of the defence and what’s going on, they’re very brief,” Scovil wrote. “There is very little, in my experience before the courts, much simpler than a speeding charge.”
Inquiring with the front desk of the Amherst Provincial Court on Wednesday when Kalinowski’s matter was to be heard, Scovil learned trial dates were being set between eight and nine months later and, during 2012, efforts were being made to bring those wait times down to six and eight months.
“Eight to nine months would not probably be out of the ordinary, but I’m not saying that it is or it isn’t,” Scovil concluded. “Each case is unique. But 12 months, 19 days is [out of the ordinary]. It is a lengthy delay with no reasonable explanation as to why, and it would appear to be totally systemic.”
And so, Scovil stayed the speeding charge against Kalinowski.