If provinces and prosecutors were hoping to get a bit of breathing room in their struggles with strict new standards on trial delays, the Supreme Court of Canada is in no mood to oblige.

In a unanimous decision released Friday, the Supreme Court doubled down on a ruling last summer in the matter of R. v Jordan that set out a ceiling on trial delays in order to shake up the “culture of complacency” in Canada’s sluggish justice system.

The Jordan decision has sent ripples across the country because it made no exception for the seriousness of the charge — meaning even accused murderers have had their cases tossed out of court due to trial delays.

In this new decision, the Supreme Court ruled that James Cody, a Newfoundland man facing drug trafficking and weapons charges, will not get a new trial after his case took five years. The trial judge had ordered a stay of proceedings due to the delay, but was overturned last October by an appeals court citing the “transitional” exception for cases already underway before the Jordan decision’s release.

The transition period is one of three exceptions that may justify a trial exceeding the Jordan standards (18 months in a provincial court, 30 months in a superior court). The other two exceptions are events beyond the Crown’s control, and a situation where there is a particularly complex case.


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