Saskatchewan postpones jury trials until April

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Saskatchewan’s Court of Queen’s Bench is extending the postponement of jury trials until the end of March.

In November the Court had postponed jury trials that were scheduled to begin before the end of the year. That has been extended until March 31, 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Members of the public summoned for jury selection before March 31, 2021, should not attend.

“We will continue to adjust our response to the pandemic as necessary, while maintaining the public’s access to the essential services the Court provides,” said Martel D. Popescul, Chief Justice of the Court on Dec. 21.

Jury trials require more people to be physically present in the courtroom each day of the trial and draw members of the public from a fairly broad geographic area, particularly during the selection process. These and other factors were considered when extending the postponement.

There were 19 jury trials scheduled between Jan. 1 and March 31, 2021.

Unless brought forward sooner on a judge’s order, postponed matters will be spoken to on the date originally set for the trial to begin. Accused individuals can re-elect trial by judge alone (in which case the trial would proceed in the scheduled time frame), or have the matter adjourned to a later date. These adjournments will receive rescheduling priority from the Court.

After first being postponed in the spring with the outbreak of the pandemic, jury trials resumed in September at off-site locations and with strict adherence to physical distancing and other public health protocols. Four jury trials have proceeded in that time.

Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist