Judge position moved from Miramichi to Saint John, chief justice confirms

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Court of Queen's Bench Justice John Walsh died in February. His Miramichi position has been moved to Saint John but remains unfilled. (Andrew Robson - image credit)
Court of Queen's Bench Justice John Walsh died in February. His Miramichi position has been moved to Saint John but remains unfilled. (Andrew Robson - image credit)

The Court of Queen's Bench in New Brunswick is shifting a judicial position to Saint John to cut into long trial delays there, a move that comes at the expense of Miramichi.

Chief Justice Tracey DeWare confirmed to CBC News that the vacant position opened by the death of Miramichi-based Justice John Walsh in February has been moved to Saint John.

"The delays in the Family Division in Saint John were running at approximately 22 months for a trial at the beginning of 2021," DeWare said in an email. "This was contrasted with three to four months in the judicial district of Miramichi."

The Judicature Act gives DeWare the authority to designate where a judge will have his or her office. There must be at least one judge living within 50 kilometres of each of the province's eight judicial districts.

DeWare said she based her decision on an analysis of the case volumes in each district and the resulting delays in getting to trial.

Miramichi to have one judge

DeWare's decision will leave Justice Fred Ferguson as the only Court of Queen's Bench justice in Miramichi.

"It must be acknowledged that this decision will have an impact on the delays in the judicial district of Miramichi," she said in the email.

"Justice Ferguson now finds himself on his own to manage the requirements of the judicial district; however, the volume is very similar to that of Woodstock and Campbellton, which are also single judge judicial districts."

The move hasn't immediately addressed the delays in Saint John because the federal government has yet to appoint a new judge to fill Walsh's position.

DeWare said she's hopeful that will happen in the near future.