Crown prosecutors in Kelowna are maxed out and can’t take on any more trials until fall, the court heard Monday.
Administrative Crown counsel Wendy Kavanagh told Justice Randall Wong that there aren’t any prosecutors available until October in response to a defence lawyer’s request to set an early trial date for her client.
Lawyer Jennifer Thorne was told by trial coordinators that court time was available as early as this month, but that the Crown office couldn’t have a prosecutor available until October. The aggravated assault and assault with a weapon case is specially assigned to a specific prosecutor, said Kavanagh, but she did check if other prosecutors might be available.
“There is just not any time within our office to absorb this file,” said Kavanagh, saying they already took on some cases as requested by Thorne’s predecessor. “We are maxed out. There is just not a prosecutor to absorb this file between now and October.”
Vernon and Penticton’s Crown offices are also short-staffed as Kavanagh said their issue is not that they don’t have enough senior lawyers to handle such a trial. “We have almost exclusively senior counsel,” said Kavanagh, noting that places their office in a “fairly unique” position.
The trial is being set for October, but the case will return to court in early June to check if some pending cases don’t go to trial, freeing up a prosecutor before fall.