PENTICTON - What's going on in the Penticton Crown prosecutor's office?
A Penticton defence lawyer took issue with the performance of local Crown prosecutors who, he says, are so busy they are impacting the administration of justice. Earlier this week, defence lawyer Robert Maxwell told Judge Gale Sinclair he had four sentencings before the court Monday morning, Jan. 15 and was missing important information.
“It was all indicated in the last few weeks that they would be for disposition today," he told Judge Gale Sinclair. "I asked whoever the Crown was in courtroom 200, ‘Can you get Crown to give me a sentencing position? You know what I’ve got on all these files for today? Nothing."
It's not an insignificant charge. If Crown can't keep up with cases and they are delayed, the law says charges must be dropped.
Maxwell expressed similar concerns on his next case, telling the court his client had been in court Dec. 13, 2017, when guilty pleas were indicated, prior to the matter being put over to Jan. 15.
“At that time, again, Crown was told 'get somebody to get me the sentencing position.' They’re so busy - I don’t know what they’re doing over there, but they’re not providing disclosure," Maxwell said, adding he and his client were due in court without any idea what Crown is considering in terms of a sentence.
He said something was “seriously wrong” when people have to come to court, and not know what's happening.
“Am I aggravated? Yes,” Maxwell said. “I’m not standing here as a politician, I’m standing here in my duty as counsel, working in the best interests of my client. The Crown is not concerned about the best interests of my client.”
Maxwell concluded his morning’s business in court by expressing the same concerns over lack of disclosure and sentencing position for his last client, saying he was not going to reiterate previous comments, but noted for the record, "one more instance of absolutely no indication of Crown’s position on the matter.”
Calls to local prosecutors for an explanation were passed off to B.C. Prosecution Service spokesperson Dan McLaughlin who said in an email he could not comment beyond explaining the basics of court procedures.
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