Chatham-Kent Courthouse. March 1, 2016. (Photo by Simon Crouch)

No Word On Possible Appeal For Dog Fighting Ruling

The Ministry of the Attorney General’s office isn’t providing many comments yet on a Chatham judge’s decision to stay charges in a high profile dog fighting case.

Ministry spokesperson Emilie Smith says because “the matter is within the appeal period, it would be inappropriate to comment on the specific case.”

The Crown now has a little less than 30 days to present an appeal to the Ontario Court of Appeal after a Chatham judge threw out all of the charges against John Robert and Michel Gagnon on Friday.

Smith adds that the provincial government “recognizes the devastating impact stayed cases can have on victims, families, witnesses and communities” and that “the right to be tried within a reasonable time is a fundamental part of our justice system.”

In his decisionĀ on Friday, Justice Bruce Thomas said Robert’s and Gagnon’s right to a trial within a reasonable time was violated. That follows a decision by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2016, when it ruled that superior court cases now have up to 30 months to be completed from the time the charge is laid to the conclusion of a trial. Defence lawyer Ken Marley successfully argued that there were too many delays in the case.

While Smith declined specific comment, she did point to the province’s plan to spend $25-million per year to “improve the performance of Ontario’s criminal justice system so it is faster and fairer.” She says the plan includes “appointing more judges, hiring more crowns and court staff, providing more funding for Legal Aid counsel” in order to reduce delays and create safer communities.

It’s not clear yet if the Crown plans to appeal Justice Thomas’ decision.