Montreal judge tosses more than 260 charges over unreasonable delays

A Montreal municipal court judge has tossed more than 260 charges — mostly minor offences against homeless people — saying unreasonable delays in getting the cases to court violated the charter rights of the accused.

In his decision released last week, Judge Gaétan Plouffe explained most of the 264 cases involved vulnerable defendants who appeared to be homeless.

The offences were low-level violations of municipal bylaws that Plouffe described as "incivilities": loitering, littering, sleeping on public benches, not paying transit fares.

"The court is seized by this situation of the violation of the right to a trial within a reasonable time in so many cases," Plouffe said in the decision.

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