NB Prosecutors say recent sexual assault crackdown is evidence of resource crunch – New Brunswick Pipa News


NB Prosecutors say recent sexual assault crackdown is evidence of resource crunch – New Brunswick

There have been calls to urgently address the provincial criminal justice system following a decision to hold off on a sexual assault case because of a lack of prosecutors.

According to the New Brunswick Crown Prosecutors Association, the judge’s decision last Friday in Moncton is directly related to a lack of resources.

“As prosecutors, it’s a worst-case scenario for us,” said Shara Munn, president of the New Brunswick Crown Prosecutors Association.

“What we do isn’t about winning and losing, it’s about seeking justice.”

The association has repeatedly sought assistance from the provincial government, Munn said, as members began to reach a “crisis point”.

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She said it was “unfortunate” that a file as important as sexual harassment had been withheld.

As the system grapples with low pay and heavy workloads relative to law enforcement, the association warned that more files are “likely” to be held up.


According to Munn, figures suggest they need an additional 40 prosecutors and 10 family Crown Counsel on the criminal side, to relieve the workload.

Global News was not granted a request for an interview with New Brunswick Attorney General Hugh JA (Ted) Fleming.

“In New Brunswick, court decisions to bar charges due to an unreasonable pre-trial delay are very, very extraordinary,” Fleming said in a statement.

“Public Prosecution Services review each file withheld for delay, to ensure lessons are learned and risk is reduced.”

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The presumptive limit for a case in a provincial court is 18 months, set by the Supreme Court of Canada.

Munn notes that this mark should be a maximum, not something to strive for.

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“If you’re a victim and you’re waiting 18 months for the case to be heard and concluded, that’s 18 months where you can’t move forward, you probably can’t get the help you need, You can’t demand closure,” she said.

System underfunded, professor says

Nicole O’Byrne, an associate professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of New Brunswick, said there has been a chronic underfunding of the criminal justice system for decades.

Only now, “the chickens have come home to roost,” partly due to the rise in retirement and tuition.

O’Byrne told Global News on Wednesday, “Well, a lot of it boils down to money, you need to pay people a fair salary, you have to have enough positions, you can’t hold back judicial appointments for budgetary reasons.” Can’t move.”

According to O’Byrne, perhaps the most important area in need of the most cash flow is the legal aid system.

“Legal aid funding is not ongoing, so there is a shortage of Crown prosecutors, but their job becomes more difficult when you have people who are charged with a crime who do not have access to legal counsel, so They represent themselves,” she said.

“It drags things out, takes more time, and Crown prosecutors have to do more heavy-lifting to ensure that the constitutional rights of the opposing side are respected.”

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As for Munn, with a provincial budget expected in the coming weeks, she expects the government to fund the system to help it slide further into crisis.

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