‘Boggles my mind’: Alberta law firm sounds alarm as COVID-19 grinds courts to a halt

A criminal law firm in Edmonton says COVID-19 restrictions in Alberta’s courthouses have led to an untenable situation.

Liberty Law is sounding the alarm over excessive justice delays in a letter to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and provincial health and justice ministers.

The firm says even though courts have been deemed essential services, they are not operating that way and only a small number of cases are trickling through.

The lawyers say the pandemic has created an extreme backlog in a court system that was already overburdened.

They note courtrooms are suited to physical distancing and they are calling for them to be opened immediately.

Court of Queen’s Bench announced last week that hearings will be restricted to urgent matters until at least June 26 and criminal jury trials and jury selections are to be adjourned until September.

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Liberty Law partner Brian Hurley says a few court functions have been made possible with the help of technology, but the situation is unacceptable.

“It boggles my mind that I can go to the garden centre. I can go to a menswear store. I can play golf. I can go to the Apple Store,” he said.

“But I can’t get to court for about 90 per cent of my matters.”

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