Waiting Through an Adjournment (Patience is a Virtue)

Recent bail reform, including R. v. Antic (2017), highlights the need for change to ensure that judicial decisions about bail follow bail legislation. However, the impact of bail reform is understudied. Bail releases often do not follow bail legislation and case law as they ignore the ladder principle and include conditions that do not appear to relate to the risks of release or the alleged crime. The trend reflects a reluctance of Justices of the Peace (JPs) to ensure that their decisions abide by legal rules. The current study uses 132 bail cases collected from May 2016 to January 2018 via courtroom observation in a mid-sized city in southwestern Ontario. Its purpose is to examine the impact of bail reform on judicial decisions about bail releases. The results show that bail reform decreases the severity of forms of release, increases the average number of conditions per case, impacts the application of onerous conditions, increases the amount of JP disagreement with Crown attorney requests, and influences how JPs explain their bail decisions. The study also finds significant variation in decisions between JPs.