The province wants to add more judges to fall in line with the per capita of other provinces
The government will introduce legislation this fall to add 10 additional justice positions, as well as fill current vacancies on the bench, Alberta Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley said Thursday.
Currently Alberta has 18 vacancies in the Court of Queen’s Bench and three vacancies in the Court of Appeal.
Ganley said the new legislation will add an additional nine new positions to the Court of Queen’s Bench and one to the Court of Appeal.
The news comes as experts say Alberta’s court system is in the midst of a worsening crisis, citing long delays and lack of judges.
The R. vs. Jordan decision is a landmark Supreme Court of Canada ruling that set out a new framework for determining whether a criminal trial has been unreasonably delayed. According to the decision, an unreasonable delay would be presumed should proceedings – from the date of charge to conclusion of a trial – exceed 18 months in provincial court or 30 months in superior court.
Since the Jordan ruling was made last summer, already one first-degree murder case has been thrown out in Alberta.
Ganley told Global News Tuesday her government understands Albertans are concerned about the current state of the court system, especially in light of news that some cases are being thrown out because they are taking too long to be heard.
Judges cannot be appointed by provincial governments; provinces can only recommend appointments that the federal government can then approve.
Meanwhile, the federal justice minister announced Thursday plans to appoint 24 new judges across the country, as well as implement a new process for selecting justices.
Jody Wilson-Raybould said the Liberals plan to focus on adding diversity to the selection process while offering better transparency.
She said 14 of the 24 new judges will be women and two have identified themselves as Indigenous.
It is not known how many of the 24 will be in Alberta. (bw/with files from Global News)