"The time has come for Canada's justice system to think about doing away with preliminary inquiries, federal Justice Minister Vic Toews said Monday."
Sighhhhh.... Will someone point out to Vic that preliminary inquiries save the court system time and money because they help weed out cases which have no validity, allow a judge or magistrate to decide if there is enough evidence for the case to go on to a full trial, and for the defence to know the strength and details of the case to which it has to answer. Doing away with preliminary inquiries not only prevents the defense from hearing the full case against them, putting the defendant at a disadvantage, and, no matter how you cut is not "expedient".
Contrary to Mr. Toews' assertion that "Maybe, in very limited circumstances — [when] the Crown and defence counsel agree that there's an issue related to the credibility of a witness — that makes sense.... But in most situations, all we're doing is duplicating. We're giving defence lawyers, essentially, a second kick at the cat.", many cases have been thrown out before before the get to trial or a defendant, hearing the evidence against him/her has chosen to plead guilty in order to avoid trial. This, in fact, allows the Crown to test evidence without risking mistrial or to allow them to withdraw the charges in order to strengthen their case before running the risk of a "not quilty" verdict.
It might also be pointed out that if a preliminary enquiry "allows the defence a second kick at the cat" it does the same for the prosecution, making it advantageous for both sides.
Surely making sure you "get it right the first time" should be seen as more "expedient" than wasting time, money and effort on a case which should never have been heard in the first place or shou;ld have been significantly redrawn to ensure conviction....
I find the final statement by Mr. Toews to be very telling of his grasp of the legal system and the importance of preliminary inquiries to be particularly telling...
Toews noted that provincial attorneys-general already have the discretion to skip a preliminary hearing and proceed to direct indictment, as happened in the Air India trial.
Toews said he would like to see that trend continue.
Just a little reminder of the outcome of the Air India trial.... After 20 years of investigation and prosecution, and $130 million CAD:
March 16, 2005 – Justice Ian Josephson delivers the verdict for Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri: Not guilty on all counts
In his findings, Justice Josephson wrote: "I began by describing the horrific nature of these cruel acts of terrorism, acts which cry out for justice. Justice is not achieved, however, if persons are convicted on anything less than the requisite standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Despite what appear to have been the best and most earnest of efforts by the police and the Crown, the evidence has fallen markedly short of that standard."
On February 10, 2003 Inderjit Singh Reyat plead guilty to a charge of manslaughter (for his constructing of the bomb that downed the plane) and was given a 5 year sentence.