Canadian Man Accused of Raping And Assaulting Woman Has Charges Dropped Because No Trial Judges Were Available

Natasha Biase

A man in Ontario, Canada, has had the pending rape charges against him dropped because a lack of judges were available to preside over his case. In a hearing last month, Judge Catherine Rhinelander formally withdrew charges against Emron Constantine after determining his right to a timely trial had been violated.

As per The Criminal Code of Canada, individuals facing criminal charges have a constitutional right to be tried within a reasonable time frame of 18 months.

According to CTV News, Constantine was arrested and charged with four counts of assault, two counts of sexual assault, and one count of uttering threats in 2019. Although his hearing was scheduled for last September, the proceedings were postponed until May 2024 due to a shortage of judges.

In an Ontario Superior Court hearing in April, Rhinelander admitted that while the proceedings were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a shortage of judges was ultimately to blame.

“This matter would have been completed within the […] timeline, had a judge been available,” Rhinelander wrote. “ It is this additional [..] delay caused directly by a lack of judicial resources that resulted in this matter exceeding [its limit].”

In her summary, Rhinelander shared Justice Michael Code’s sentiments from a Superior Court ruling in 2021, where he described the trial lists as being overbooked.

“There are almost always excess cases scheduled for trial in a given week because the reality is that a certain number of cases invariably ‘collapse,’ either on the trial date, shortly before or shortly after […]. As a result, trial scheduling involves some art and some science,” wrote Code.

“A properly functioning Court will have enough flexibility, in terms of available judges, so that a judge can be called upon to take up a case that has not collapsed and that has not been assigned. When the Court has no such flexibility, because of a shortage of judges, a case that is ready to proceed and that has not been assigned, will not be reached.”

Concluding, Rhinelander stressed that “the Court must have enough judges to try the cases that do not collapse.”

This is not the first time a case was tossed due to staffing shortages in Ontario courtrooms. As previously reported by CTV News, Toronto’s Ontario Court of Justice similarly had to throw out a woman’s sexual assault case due to delays that violated the defendant’s rights.

Although the proceedings began on July 7, the case was adjourned until November 7, 2023. Despite the Crown admitting to the plaintiff they believed she was sexually assaulted, the case was thrown out days before court was set to resume. 

Speaking with CTV News, the woman, who chose to remain anonymous to protect her identity, explained the toll her experience with Ontario’s legal system has taken on her.

“It took so much to even do that first step of giving my statement to the police and [going to] the hospital. Then, a year and a half later, I decided to go back to Toronto to do this trial, face this man, and tell my story. Now it’s just over.”

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