Surge of COVID-19 cases prompts delays in N.W.T. territorial court

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All Yellowknife trials, sentencings and preliminary inquiries have been deferred to mid-February for rescheduling. (Walter Strong/CBC - image credit)
All Yellowknife trials, sentencings and preliminary inquiries have been deferred to mid-February for rescheduling. (Walter Strong/CBC - image credit)

The latest surge of COVID-19 cases in the Northwest Territories is causing further delays to territorial court proceedings.

In a court directive updated on Dec. 31, 2021, all trials, sentencings and preliminary inquiries scheduled in Yellowknife before Feb. 14, 2022 will be adjourned for rescheduling on Feb. 15 at the earliest.

Outside of Yellowknife, all matters scheduled to be heard on community circuits from September 2021 to February 2022 are adjourned until the end of February.

The first community circuit dates are in Inuvik and will be heard the week of Feb. 22, 2022. Fifteen other communities are scheduled thereafter, including Tuktoyaktuk, Hay River, Fort Smith, Fort Good Hope and Aklavik. Fort Liard is at the end of the list, scheduled for circuit April 6 and 7, 2022.

All youth and adult docket days prior to Feb. 14, 2022 are cancelled and adjourned until the Monday six weeks after the cancelled docket day.

All civil and family court matters will now be conducted virtually.

Bail hearings will proceed with the accused appearing by phone or video. Domestic Violence Treatment Option Court (DVTO) and Wellness Court will continue to be conducted remotely, as outlined in the court's directive earlier last year.

Members of the public can continue to attend court proceedings so long as they are screened, masked, maintain proper distancing and use hand sanitizer.

Courts administrator Denise Bertolini said the measures will be revisited regularly and "adjusted as required as the current health crisis evolves."

No changes have been made to N.W.T. Supreme Court proceedings. The COVID-19 directive for the N.W.T. Supreme Court was last updated on May 27, 2021.

On New Year's Eve the N.W.T. government reported the number of active COVID-19 cases in the territory reached 160, an increase of 42 cases in a 24-hour period.

Of the active cases, there 132 are in Yellowknife, four in the Beaufort Delta region, three in the Dehcho, eight in Fort Smith, One in Hay River, two in the Sahtu and 10 in the Tłı̨chǫ.

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