I find the CanLaw information you posted a bit confusing. It says the Pre-Trial precedes the Preliminary Hearing and yet is used evaluate the strength of the Crown's case (presumably based on what was presented at the Preliminary Hearing).
At the conclusion of the Preliminary Hearing in April, the Ontario Court Judge ruled the Crown had sufficient grounds to proceed to trial in the Superior Court. Here are the results as reported by Jonathan Goldsbie:
There will be a Trial Concerning the Rob Ford Crack Video (NOW)
However, in that article, he states the trial date was indeed sceduled to have been set on May 27. So maybe, in this case a pretrial has been requested by the Superior Court Justice who will be hearing the case, perhaps in a final effort to reach a settlement and avoid a trial . . . which would be a damn shame.
Whatever the case, CanLaw is quite clear that a Judicial Pre-Trial is held in private and off the record, and that the accused is not permitted to attend. So, unfortunately we will not be hearing anything juicy on the 20th . . . but maybe finally a real trial date.
Does anyone have any insight into what the process is here?
In a case where there is a preliminary hearing, there can be a pre-trial before that hearing and, if the decision at the preliminary hearing goes against the accused, there can be another pre-trial before the trial.
Thanks for clearing up the logistics, Pud; but what's the point of thing? Does it serve a similar purpose to the original pre-trial? Is this Lisi's last chance for a plea deal?
Oh, and who might've requested it, when in April it looked like we'd be going directly to trial? Lisi's lawyers?
All pre-trials have the same end - to see if the next step in the process can be avoided (e.g., Crown drops all charges; Crown and accused come to a plea bargain on all charges) and, if that does not prove possible, at least see if the next step in the process can be simplified and/or shortened (e.g., Crown drops some but not all charges; accused comes to a plea bargain on some but not all charges; Crown and accused agree to accept some factual issues as decided without additional evidence; and so on). The complexion of things, the temperature, etc. [that seems like enough metaphors for now] could be seen differently by the parties after a preliminary hearing, and so it may be worthwhile to 'try again' before trial.
I cannot say whether the idea of having a second pre-trial now was championed by Lisi's lawyers (e.g., do they think that the preliminary hearing revealed weakness in the Crown's case and pre-trial judge might encourage Crown to dismiss?) or by the Crown (e.g., do they think that the preliminary hearing revealed weakness in Lisi's defence and the pre-trial judge might encourage his lawyers to recommend to him that he consent to a plea bargain?). Either is a possibility.
ETA: Lisi's last chance for as plea bargain can be as late as just before the conclusion of the trial. It is up the Crown and defence how far along they will be willing to negotiate for a possible deal, but nothing prevents them doing so right down to the proverbial wire.