A senate report is calling on the Liberal government to immediately appoint seven new Federal judges to fill empty seats in B.C. to address court delays.
However, criminal lawyer Paul Doroshenko says filling those vacancies doesn’t necessarily mean a push forward for backlogged cases.
“The problem is that you’ve perpetually got judges who are retiring, you’ve got judges, for whatever reason, who are older and frail, they might become sick. There’s always a requirement to continue to be filling judges.”
Doroshenko says just filling empty seats isn’t enough.
“What drags it out is when you show up for a trial and you don’t have a judge to conduct hearing, a review an appeal of something in superior court. There are two judges sitting in the building and you’ve got 50 matters on the court list.”
He says those seven seats account for judges who are sick, or take leave.
“Very rarely do people dig into it further and say ‘well hang on, what are the number of judges we’ve got, there’s almost always a judge that’s off for cancer treatment, have you accommodated for that, there’s almost always a reason a judge is off for some reason, have you accommodated for that?”
The report also suggests reducing the number of unnecessary court appearances, but Doroshenko disagrees, saying two minute court appearances aren’t the problem.
He says it simply boils down to a lack of judges.