Alberta courts postpone some trials as COVID-19 cases hit record highs

The Provincial Court of Alberta and Queen’s Bench have announced changes related to proceedings as record cases of COVID-19 continue in the province.

Provincial courts

The provincial courts said between Jan. 4 until the 21, it will adjourn adult and youth criminal and custody trials. Preliminary inquiries and other hearings requiring witness evidence will also be adjourned.

New court dates will be assigned to the cases that are effected through counsel and case management offices. Family docket and child protection issues will proceed through the provincial court system remotely.

Traffic court is not open to in-person appearances. Virtual trials scheduled in Medicine Hat, Brooks, Lethbridge and Fort MacLeod will go on as scheduled; those with cases in all other cities should contact the court for information on rescheduling.

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Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta

The Queen’s Bench also announced changes, saying new trials in civil, commercial, surrogate and family matters will be postponed between Jan. 4 and Jan. 21.

Queen’s Bench trails that are already in progress will continue until they are concluded. The court will also continue with scheduled in-custody criminal matters and sentencing, emergency protection and restraining order hearings, and matters that involve “unusual and urgent circumstances.”

Read more: COVID-19: Alberta will delay return to in-person K to 12 school until Jan. 10

The Provincial Court of Alberta is the busiest court in Alberta, with 95 per cent of all matters beginning and ending at the provincial court level. Every year, more than 500,000 people interact with the Provincial Court of Alberta in some way.

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Not the first time

This is not the first time that Alberta courts have made sweeping changes through the pandemic. In early 2020, courts postponed cases as the COVID-19 pandemic began. Later that year, as cases increased in December, changes were once again made to how courts operate as cases of the disease rose.

Over the last several weeks, Alberta has recorded record-high numbers of the virus in the province. The last estimate the province gave was 4,000 new cases on Dec. 30 — the largest one-day addition since the start of the pandemic.

–With files from Caley Ramsay, Global News


© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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