Saskatchewan provincial courts are resuming court at nine circuit court locations in the coming weeks, Saskatchewan Chief Judge J.A. Plemel said in a statement May 29.
In late March the courts reduced services and all court cases for non-custody accused and docket proceedings at circuit court locations were adjourned until after May 31 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fort Qu’Appelle will be the first to resume on June 1. Kindersley, Punnichy, Spiritwood and Weyburn will open on June 9. Carlyle and Nipawin will open June 10. Maple Creek (tentative) and Montreal Lake will re-open on June 11.
Access to courthouses across the province will continue to be restricted to only those necessary for the proceedings including counsel, litigants, accused, witnesses, support workers, immediate family and support persons, as well as members of the media. But depending on how many people want access to a courthouse, entry may still be restricted or delayed. The court will adjust the number of people appearing in court on a specific day to ensure public health guidelines are followed.
In April, the Saskatchewan Trial Lawyers Association (STLA) expressed concern over a potential backlog of cases due to the pandemic. Christine Hansen-Chad, a Partner at OWZW Lawyers and president of the STLA, said the backlog was a concern.
In 2016 the Supreme Court ruled that cases must be heard within a certain time frame. A ruling called Jordan’s Decision stipulates provincial cases must be heard within 18 months after charges are laid.
Anyone with COVID-19 related symptoms, or who has been advised to self-isolate, shouldn’t come to the courthouse. Anyone with a scheduled court appearance should call the appropriate court office or the local provincial prosecutions office for instruction.
The chief judge also encourages crown and defense counsel to appear by telephone on all matters except trials and preliminary inquiries.
For in-custody accused, the scheduling of trials, preliminary inquiries, sentencing hearings and bail hearings will go ahead by telephone or video.
For non-custody accused, their matters will be spoken to on the scheduled date and time.
All non-custody trials and preliminary inquiries that were adjourned since March 23 due to COVID-19 are now being rescheduled.