Quebec judge rejects delay for dying man

A Quebec provincial court judge has refused a request by a dying man charged with drunk driving to have his case remanded for a year so that he can undergo life-extending treatment for a terminal lung disease.

“One year is unreasonable,” Court of Quebec judge Johanne Roy reportedly told the 60-year-old accused, who suffers from pulmonary fibrosis, when delivering her decision from the bench Sept. 15.

According to a story about the case that appeared in Quebec City’s Le Soleil newspaper, the man’s lawyer, Sarto Landry, argued that a one-year delay in the criminal trial would both relieve the stress the case has caused his client and allow him to focus his energy on the intensive treatments he needs to stay alive.

The man was diagnosed in 2014 with pulmonary fibrosis, a degenerative disease that Landry said would kill his client within a year or two if he did not receive a lung transplant.

He was arrested and charged with drunk driving shortly afterwards, and his case has been before the courts since November 2015.

According to Crown prosecutor Jean-Simon Larouche, the man’s case has been remanded “many times” since then.

The most recent time was in August, when the man had a sudden malaise on the day his trial was set to begin.

“If an individual doesn’t want to plead guilty we have no choice but to proceed,” Larouche told Legal Feeds in a phone interview.  “We have offered him several options, including hearings by video, but to no avail.”

For his part, Landry blamed the remands on his client’s grave illness.

“It’s possible that he will receive a new lung,” Landry reportedly told the judge. “Currently he is unable to work and spends his days lying down.  We could remand the case for at least a year to see what will happen — maybe he won’t even be around then.”

But judge Roy was having none of it.

Noting the modalities and impact of the Supreme Court of Canada’s Jordan decision on July 8, judge Roy said the case has been on court dockets for two years already.

“Wouldn’t one way to relieve monsieur of his great stress be to deal with the problem?” she asked rhetorically before rejecting Landry’s request.

The judge then set a date for a preliminary hearing in October, with the trial set to begin in November.

Those dates were later cancelled, however, when Landry, who is notorious in Quebec legal circles for several run-ins with the Quebec Bar and a defamation suit against Court of Quebec Judge James Rondeau, announced his intention to file a Charter challenge to Judge Roy’s ruling on behalf of his client.

That motion will be heard on Dec. 21.

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