In the later part of December 2008, Barrett Richard Jordan was arrested following an RCMP investigation into a “dial-a-dope” operation in both Langley and Surrey, B.C. The officers wouldn’t know at the time that Jordan’s arrest would set off a chain reaction of legal events that would lead to a Supreme Court decision in Jordan’s name.
During the pretrial, Jordan remained in custody until February 2009 and was then released on bail where he needed to adhere to strict bail conditions including house arrest as the trial dragged on.
A preliminary inquiry — the initial inquiry that occurs at the demand of an accused person, wherein the judge screens the proposed criminal charges against the available evidence — was scheduled for May 2010, but the Crown did not realize it would take longer than the four days that was originally outlined. Scheduling issues and delays pushed the court proceedings back a year because an additional five days was required for the inquiry.
By the time the preliminary hearing was complete, over two years had already passed.
After getting convicted on a prior drug charge and sentenced to a 15-month conditional sentence, Jordan’s trial for the dial-a-dope operation began again after a new prosecutor had taken on the file in July 2011.
The trial was scheduled to start again in September 2012 and was only supposed to last six weeks. By February 2013, he was convicted on five drug-related charges.
The decision was then appealed in the B.C. Court of Appeal, but the the initial ruling was upheld.
The next step brought the case before the Supreme Court of Canada after Jordan and his legal counsel argued that his legal right to be tried in a reasonable time was violated because of the length of time taken to complete the trial.
In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court of Canada narrowly agreed with Jordan.
In a narrow vote, the Supreme Court of Canada changed the way justice would be administered in Canada by placing hard ceilings on how long trials could go on for. Before 2016, there was no limit on how long cases could go for. When the Jordan Decision came into effect, time limits were placed on the length of all trials — 18 months for provincial cases and 30 months for cases that were tried in superior courts, like Alberta’s Court of Queen’s Bench.
Lost in Time explores how the Jordan Decision has impacted the administration of justice, here in Alberta and across the country. Various experts tell the same story; in the future the Jordan Decision will be good, but right now there are challenges. An in-depth exploration of how the murder trial of Lukas Strasser-Hird ties into Jordan is also provided, including an exclusive interview with Balfour Der, a defence attorney who represented Assmar Shlah during the murder trial. And finally, a massive database outlining every single Jordan Application in Alberta lets readers see for themselves the types of cases that may or may not be thrown out, a first of its kind in the country.
For more information about the Jordan Decision, please visit the Lost in Time website.
- By Tyler Ryan, Anna Junker and Logan Peters