The Court of Queen’s Bench of New Brunswick says it will have to adjourn some civil and family trials due to judicial vacancies, an unprecedented number of jury trials and a large number of cases of child protection.
The chief justice of the court wrote last week to members of the New Brunswick bar, the justice minister and the chief justice of New Brunswick to advise them that “logistical challenges” will delay an undetermined number of civil trials. and family appeals, as well as small claims cases.
Court of Queen’s Bench Chief Justice Tracey DeWare said in the June 9 memo that the large number of jury trials is “stretching judicial resources” and she regrets that this step must be taken to prioritize criminal and child protection cases.
The province has 42 jury trials scheduled over the next 15 months and has court vacations in Miramichi and Moncton. Judges could be reassigned to other areas as needed, the memo said.
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“Unfortunately, the reassignment of the judges will necessitate the adjournment of the cases as the cases are largely complete for the remainder of 2022 and into 2023.”
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Going forward, new jury trials lasting longer than two weeks will now be scheduled in about nine to 15 months to deal with the court backlog, she said in an emailed statement on Friday.
In a second internal memo, sent Thursday, DeWare said it hopes that by the end of 2022 the court will have a “full judicial supplement” and that small claims appeals will resume in January 2023.
DeWare said in an emailed statement Friday that it’s unclear why there’s been such an increase in jury trials, but she said the phenomenon isn’t unique to New Brunswick. Ten years ago there would have been three jury trials in the province in a year, but “now we have had three jury trials at the same time.”
She said it’s unclear how many civil cases will be adjourned over the next few months, but the court will work with attorneys and affected parties and offer settlement conferences where appropriate.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on June 17, 2022.
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