Judicial Crisis: Government Negligence Sparks Alarming Shortage

Alshaar Ansari
Alshaar Ansari News Politics
5 Min Read
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A rising shortage of Toronto court judges has become truly alarming, jeopardizing justice’s equal administration and public safety. In a scathing rebuke, Superior Court judges have criticized the Canadian government for its apathy in addressing the serious shortages in judicial appointments that led to dropping of major criminal cases involving human trafficking, child molestation and killings from gun charges.

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The recent release of Marlon Downey on grounds that 2 human trafficking cases against him were unconstitutionally delayed created a furor. Federal negligence over appointing enough judges was termed by Justice Michael Code as a “disgrace” to the judiciary. His first case had been thrown out in January due to an unreasonable lapse of 33 months after the last adjournment, while similar fate befell his second case with another complainant in April this year just because there were no judge available at that time.

However, Justice Jennifer Penman who presided over Downey’s second case referred to “systemic lack of judicial resources” as the main reason responsible for such an unacceptable delay. The court gave considerations on its pandemic-related shutdowns but there was no explanation for why openings left unfilled during the COVID-19 era took place at snail speed.

This crisis is now a tipping point whereby an increasing number of cases are being thrown out due to absence of judges within the city. The week before Penman’s verdict, Justice Code threw away another horrifically disturbing case concerning sexual abuse of a child blaming government for not acting on judicial shortage during ‘an extraordinary crisis of rapid population growth, increasing numbers of certain serious crimes, and a pandemic backlog’. Code’s decision involved a man charged with exploiting his niece sexually since she was six years old and taking pornographic pictures all through these years so as to force her into sex acts.

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The federal government’s handling has received wide condemnation as being insufficient and reactionary. This however has not been able to address the underlying cause of the problem, which is, according to critics, chronic underfunding and neglect of judiciary alongside other measures like extending judicial screening committees’ terms from 2 to 3 years and easing background checks for applicants.

Consequently, this crisis extends beyond courtrooms by eroding public faith in the justice system that can embolden offenders. As mass dismissals of cases related to human trafficking, child molestation, gun crime, assault or sexual assault take place victims as well as their families suffer irreparable harm due to lack of redress while public sense of security is undermined. The unfortunate reality is that dangerous individuals are being released into communities as a result of systemic deficiencies.

Legal experts, civil society organizations and citizenry have raised alarm demanding urgent intervention from the federal government on the current vacancy crisis facing the judiciary. They warn that failure to address this matter will have far reaching implications including undermining core principles such as fair hearing and equality before law; protection of vulnerable groups including women and children.

The ongoing crisis has necessitated an immediate comprehensive strategy aimed at accelerating judicial appointments; mobilization of financial resources to boost funding levels; and addressing structural obstacles. Concerns for transparency and accountability in judicial appointment process have grown louder with government urged not to choose political expediency over public safety.

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Lack of intervention will corrode the bedrocks of justice hence at stake is the security of societies and the uprightness of judicial system which call for immediate firm measures from top leadership. To avoid that, it would be important if a decision is made before things get worse.

Last Updated on by Alshaar Ansari

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