New jury trials postponed at Saskatchewan courts over COVID-19 risks

Jury trials due to start in Saskatchewan between March 16 and May 30 have been postponed as the province’s court system responds to the COVID-19 situation.

However, any jury trials that are underway will continue at the discretion of the presiding judge.

Court of Queen’s Bench

The court said that although jury trials commencing March 16 are postponed, the court is open, but is asking parties with scheduled matters including pre-trial conferences, trials and hearings to consider adjourning until a later date.

Anyone summoned for jury duty for a matter scheduled before May 30 is not to attend court, officials said.

The court said arrangements may be made for criminal cases for re-election to trial by judge alone, if the accused wants to proceed that way. If there is no re-election and trials are adjourned, those will be re-scheduled once normal proceedings resume.

Parties in civil and family chambers are asked by the court to delay bringing new applications, other than child protection matters, and to adjourn those already scheduled to a future date.

All participants for hearings that do proceed in civil and family chambers are required to attend by phone.

Child protection hearings for the week of March 16-20 are postponed and will be rescheduled to a later date, court officials said.

Access to local registrar offices are being restricted.

Drop boxes will be used for all documents to be filed in court and documents required to be returned will be available for pick up the following day at a location provided by each courthouse.

Provincial Court

Trials and preliminary hearings currently scheduled at provincial court houses will proceed as scheduled, court officials said.

The court is encouraging, where possible, the use of video and audio appearances for individuals in custody.

Lawyers or self-represented parties who wish to adjourn their matter over concerns about COVID-19 are being encouraged by the court to apply for an adjournment as soon as possible.

All three levels of court said the situation is being monitored to ensure meaningful access to justice while ensuring the safety of everyone involved in the court process.

Confused about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials say the risk is very low for Canadians, but they caution against travel to affected areas (a list can be found here). If you do travel to these places, they recommend you self-monitor to see whether you develop symptoms and if you do, to contact public health authorities.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.
For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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