Alberta (Justice) v Paasche, 2013 ABCA 301 – Trial Judge Retains Sole Jurisdiction to Adjourn Forfeiture Hearing

The Defendants, Dustin Frederick Paasche and Justin Alciade Robert, were “arrested and charged with weapons and drug trafficking offences as well as with possession of stolen property.” In the course of the investigation, approximately $3,600 in cash was seized and subject to a restraint order under Alberta’s civil forfeiture legislation, the Victims Restitution and Compensation Payment Act. Criminal charges were laid against both Defendants.

One of the Defendants, Justin Alciade Robert, contacted the Minister of Justice to request that the forfeiture proceeding against him be adjourned until the criminal charges were dealt with. The Minister consented to this adjournment in light of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench decision in Alberta (Justice and Attorney General) v. Lee, 2012 ABQB 136, which held that a Defendant should not be required to file potentially prejudicial evidence in a civil forfeiture proceeding while criminal charges remained pending.

The second Defendant, Dustin Frederick Paasche, did not take any action to oppose the civil forfeiture proceeding against him, yet Justice Burrows of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench concluded that the forfeiture proceeding against him should also be adjourned.

The Alberta Court of Appeal dismissed the Minister of Justice’s appeal of this decision, concluding that an adjournment order under the Victims Restitution and Compensation Payment Act is not subject to appeal. This decision confirms that a trial judge may, at his or her own initiative, adjourn civil forfeiture proceedings pending the outcome of criminal charges.

Decided by the Alberta Court of Appeal on September 11, 2013.
Click here for the full text of the decision.

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