R. v. Jordan

2016 SCC 27

This case has its origins in the December 2008 arrest of the appellant following an investigation into a “dial-a-dope” drug operation. Various delays prevented the trial from taking place before September 2012. The appellant was either detained or under strict bail conditions during that time, and challenged the constitutionality of the delay under s.11(b) of the Charter. The delay was found to be reasonable at trial and on appeal. The Supreme Court of Canada reversed the courts below, declaring the 49.5 month delay unreasonable. Moldaver J, writing for the majority, further declared the entire R v Morin, [1992] 1 SCR 771 framework for the assessment of delays dysfunctional. In particular, the Court took issue with the retrospective nature of the Morin framework and its role in encouraging a “culture of complacency” with regard to delays within the justice system.

The new framework sets presumptive ceilings beyond which delay is unreasonable, unless the Crown proves exceptional circumstances were involved. The Court said such circumstances cannot be predicted in advance, but will generally fall into the categories of either discrete events (such as illness or unexpected events at trial) or particularly complex cases. Below the ceiling (18 months for cases before the provincial court and 30 months before the superior court) delays are presumed reasonable unless the defence proves they took meaningful steps to expedite the process and the case took “markedly” longer than it should have.

Read the Asper Centre comment on the decision here

SCC Reasons for Judgment


Date Document
2016/04/17 Appellant – Barret Richard Jordan
2015/06/11 Respondent – Her Majesty the Queen
2015/07/30 Intervener – Attorney General of Alberta
2015/08/04 Intervener – British Columbia Civil Liberties Association
2015/09/08 Intervener – Criminal Lawyers Association (Ontario)
2015/07/09 Appellant – Reply Factum