Listen Live
HomeNewsCOVID-19Grande Prairie Chief Crown Prosecutor confident in court system relaunch preparations

Grande Prairie Chief Crown Prosecutor confident in court system relaunch preparations

Grande Prairie’s Chief Crown Prosecutor says, despite COVID-19 grinding much of the world to a near halt, the legal system in the Peace Country remains strong, as they’ve slowly continued preparations for more restrictions being lifted.

Much like the rest of the province, Steven Hinkley says the Crown has seen its share of ups and downs since courts placed restrictions on public access on March 30th. He believes a Supreme Court of Canada ruling from 2016 led them to be prepared before any shut down took place.

In the case of R v Jordan, the court rejected the previous steps taken to determine what would be a reasonable amount of time it could take for a person could be tried and replaced it with a presumptive ceiling of 18 months between charges being laid and a trial at the provincial level and 30 months at a federal level. Hinkley says that decision created fundamental change which can be used today.

“That exercise has been ongoing; it was just a very different venue in which to have to do it… I can tell you that in nearly 20 years of practice, this is something I’ve never seen the likes of before. My staff, the defence bar, and the bench have been very accommodating in ensuring we can get as much done ahead of time so we’re not totally swamped under when we get back to it.”

- Advertisement -

Hinkley says one silver lining of the pandemic closures is that it has forced the court system Canada-wide to catch up in a hurry to technology and embrace what it can offer them.

“We’ve allowed a lot more appearances virtually; we’ve allowed a lot more through video, desk applications to go with an electronic signature,” he explains. “All of those things that have become reasonably commonplace in the rest of the business world and the courts are now catching up to.”

As of now, all matters scheduled for trial between May 25th and July 3rd will be presumptively adjourned for ten weeks and rescheduled at a later date. It’s expected an updated reopening plan for the court system across Alberta will be released after that time period has elapsed.

- Advertisment -
- Advertisment -
- Advertisement -

Continue Reading