Provincial Attorney General Suzanne Anton toured the Kelowna Law Courts and met courthouse
staff on Friday, but one judge was likely preoccupied as he struggled to manage the workload in one of the two courtrooms in operation.
“We’re trying to squeeze 25 gallons of work into a 10 gallon hat,” said Judge Brad Chapman at one of the three sentencing hearings he presided over Friday.
Earlier in the day, he said he was “dumbfounded” by the scheduling before adjourning three trials and one guilty plea also set to be heard in his courtroom because there wasn’t enough time to deal with them all.
The trials delayed due to lack of court time included a criminal harassment case and hearing on theft and assault with a weapon offences.
A guilty plea to Wildlife Act offences was put off and a drug possession trial that Chapman hoped to be able to deal with Friday because of its age–the charge dates back to December 2011–got pushed to October after a failed attempt to fit it into another courtroom’s schedule.
It is not the first time a Kelowna judge has struggled with an overbooked courtroom.
In January, Judge Robin Smith wrote that it that it is common practice to triple book courtrooms, anticipating some of the cases will “collapse” prior to trial, as a way to deal with “limited judicial resources.”
He made the comments in a decision where he threw out drug charges because the court system couldn’t accommodate a trial in a timely fashion.
Smith said the defendant had been prepared to go to trial in 2012, but the trial was cancelled because a more urgent case had been slated to occur that day in the same courtroom.
Smith also stayed different drug charges in 2012 after attributing a 23-month delay in hearing a case –including a cancelled trial–to the court system.
By Cheryl Wierda, Capital News contributor