The Vancouver Police Department did so on Oct. 31 in the case of 60 people that it believes should be charged for their roles in the June 15 Stanley Cup riot.
Now it is up to Crown counsel -- the British Columbia prosecutors -- to review the recommendations, approve charges and file them with the courts. Public interest and likelihood of conviction is the simple, two-pronged test that the Crown uses in this process. That is how the system works in the province.
In order to clarify, for the benefit of readers, that nobody was charged on Oct. 31, I asked Neil MacKenzie of the Attorney General's ministry.
"The charge assessments are not completed on these individuals as yet. Crown are reviewing the files, but I don't have a specific timeline as to when any of the reviews will be completed."
While it is possible that none of the 60 recommendations will be approved, I believe we are likely to see several people charged. When remains the question. But don't hold your breath for swift justice and punishment. I have covered enough cases in my career to know that hearings, trials, plea bargains, verdicts, convictions and sentencing do not come quick in B.C. The courts are so backlogged that many Stanley Cup rioting and looting cases will stretch into 2013.
Those unfamiliar with the courts will joke about the glacial speed. "Will there be verdicts before another set of Sedin twins is drafted by the Canucks?"
Premier Christy Clark laughably said that she wants charges laid within 10 days. She didn't say calendar days or business days, but she wants it done quick. Yet again she proves you can take the host out of the talkshow but you can't take the talkshow out of the host. The wheels of justice in B.C. are exceedingly slow and underfunded. One might even call them flat or square. Prosecutors don't do the work of politicians and should be spending their scarce time on the most deplorable cases -- rapes and murders -- before dealing with the riot files.
So the clock on this blog continues and will do so until the first of the 60 people is actually charged. Names of the accused, who are presumed innocent until proven guilty, will be published here unless they are minors protected by law.
Christy Clark should keep her mouth shut and stay out of this. Like she did with the BC Rail prosecution, right? Right?
It would be refreshing if she would just let the Crown do its work on the riot files. Maybe hire some more judges, Crown prosecutors, court sheriffs, too. Hey, she could even be fair and increase legal aid. All the right things to have a better justice system. While she's at it, she could close her eyes and point to a retired judge and give him or her six months to look in any file cabinet and interview all the BC Railscam players (even herself!) before tabling a report. It's the integrity of the government that's at stake and she's not helping improve it by pretending nothing's wrong.
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