The Crown Prosecutors’ Office in Grande Prairie has gotten the green light to hire two new lawyers. It’s been down a pair for the last month, after Brenda Scragg was appointed by the province as a justice of the peace, and Jasmine Sihra became a provincial court judge. Chief Crown Prosecutor Steven Hinkley says their promotions are both good and bad news for his team.
“That, of course, on the one hand is an excellent recognition of the quality of work that they did here, but on the other hand removed 50 plus years of experience from my office. So, I’m thrilled that I can at least get back to the level that I was at before.”
The process to hire two new prosecutors can be a lengthy one, especially as Hinkley is hoping to find replacements who will add great experience.
“The loss of senior prosecutors, you lose both the efficiency and the ability to deal with the more serious matters. My junior prosecutors are excellent, but at the same time, you can’t replace experience.”
There had been six Crown prosecutors in Grande Prairie since one was allocated a little over a year ago. The city had expressed concerns about staffing levels earlier this year, but Chief Crown Prosecutor Orest Yereniuk maintained that the city had enough, especially as three of its lawyers were at a senior level and their travel is minimal.
“We presently have shortages of Crowns in six Regional Crown Offices but not in Grande Prairie,” Yereniuk said in a letter dated March 16, 2016. “I suggest that the Crown Prosecutors in Grande Prairie are more than capable of handling any and all cases that arise in their areas.”
Now that GP is down to four, action is being taken. Alberta Justice says the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service will be filling the vacancies in “the near future”, and the offices in Calgary and Edmonton will help out in the meantime so there’s no disruption.