The shortage of manpower in the courts is so serious that the deadlines required by law are no longer respected, said a judge, saying she had never seen this in 30 years.
"There is currently a state of democratic precariousness in Montreal, it has become systemic in Montreal, we cannot hold an emergency measure on time," Judge Joëlle Roy said Friday at the Montreal courthouse.
The magistrate was alarmed by the “systemic” delays caused by the lack of resources in the justice system, which prevents the court from carrying out a release investigation of more than three hours within the three-day period required by law.
"We are unable to assume our constitutional role," said the judge. It's extremely serious, I've been in the business for 30 years and I've never seen a situation like this. »
The judge was speaking in the case of two Montrealers accused of pimping, as well as possession of a shotgun and crack. Fahyim Speede and Tyler Smith had been waiting for their release hearing for a month, but due to the lack of an available clerk, it was impossible for them to be heard.
“This democratic precariousness is there now, it is increasing, we can all see it, said the judge. At some point, something is going to have to happen. »
The wait was so long that the lawyer for the accused, Me Alexandre Goyette, had even requested a stay of proceedings. His request was denied at this stage on procedural grounds.
“It will be pleaded to the trial judge,” assured Me Goyette, who spoke of a “catastrophic” situation.
Judge Roy, who was not even supposed to sit to focus on decisions to be made in other cases, heard their request for release.
And after hearing the evidence, she agreed to their request with strict conditions, including a curfew, limitations on their internet use, and a ban on being in places related to prostitution. They will also have to reside with their mothers who will watch them closely.
The labor shortage problem is particularly acute in Montreal, where 200 support employees resigned in the past year, causing a marked slowdown in the courts and the closure of courtrooms.
Most left their jobs to go to the federal, municipal or private sector, where salaries can be at least 40% higher.
Added to this, among other things, is pressure from defense lawyers who want to boycott sexual assault and domestic violence cases to denounce legal aid rates below the minimum wage.