Creston RCMP are frustrated that criminal charges are being dismissed because of a shortage of provincial court judges.
“Everyone — police, Crown council and the judges we do have — works hard to make our justice system responsive to the community,” said Cpl. Monte Taylor. “But we are all frustrated when cases are thrown out because of court delays that result from the shortage of judges.”
A recent example, he said, came in mid-November when a judge threw out charges arising from an indoor marijuana grow-op bust, citing “unreasonable delay”.
The case stems back to August 2009, when Creston police discovered the grow-op when a 911 call was accidentally made from a home in the 500 block of 14th Avenue South. The ensuing investigation led to the discovery of 89 marijuana plants and a small quantity of dried marijuana. Two adults, a 67-year-old female and a 53-year-old male, were subsequently charged with production of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking.
The two arrived in November for an 11th court appearance, most of which were rescheduled because of a lack of court time due to the unavailability of judges.
Defence lawyers are using the judicial shortage to their advantage now, Taylor said, seeking out reasons to delay proceedings in the hope that the lack of court time will eventually lead to the dismissal of charges.