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Supreme Court of Denmark

The date fixed for trial in major criminal case maintained by reason of the defendants’ choice of counsel 

Case no. 69/2011
Judgment 30 March 2011
 

The Prosecution
vs.
T1-T4

The date fixed for trial in major criminal case maintained by reason of the defendants’ choice of counsel

In a court hearing, a criminal case with 14 defendants was set down for trial in the High Court over a period of time up to the last court day on 22 March 2012. Several defence counsels and the Prosecution criticised the fact that this date was so far in the future. The High Court then attempted to find possible hearing dates in the first half of 2011 with the defence counsels and the Prosecution and gave a ruling on a new court date, which meant that 20 December 2011 would now be the last court day. Four of the 14 defence counsels appealed the ruling, referring, among other things, to them being unable to attend the hearings on the dates fixed in the first half of 2011 due to other cases. Considering the complexity of the case and the relatively modest time saving with the new court dates – approx. three months – and in consideration of the defendants’ choice of defence counsel, the Supreme Court held that the original date fixed should be maintained. This was not in contravention of s. 843a, cf. s. 917, of the Danish Administration of Justice Act or of Article 6 of the European Human Rights Convention. In addition, when attempting to fix another date, the High Court should have asked the attorneys representing T1-T4 about whether they were able to appear in court on the scheduled dates, and if not, the appointment should have been revoked with the option of referring the decision on dequalification to the Special Court of Indictment and Revision.

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