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Criminal Voir Dires in Writing

Jun 1, 2020

Effective immediately, where the accused is represented by Counsel and where Crown and Defence Counsel consent to waive the conduct of an oral hearing and  cross-examination on affidavit evidence, voir dires or other pre-trial applications involving Criminal Code offences (excepting cases involving ss. 276/278 of the Criminal Code which contain specific hearing requirements) may be submitted to the Court with affidavit evidence and written argument (along with an electronic copy of video tape in the case of a s. 715.1 voir dire) to be considered by way of desk application.

Priority will be given to voir dires previously scheduled for a hearing between March 16, 2020 and June 26, 2020 and adjourned pursuant to the Court’s Master Orders. Additional priority consideration will also be given to trials scheduled to commence this calendar year.

All written materials for all Counsel must be submitted together, in accordance with the procedures outlined here. The subject line must indicate the action number. The materials must also indicate the date the voir dire was previously scheduled to be heard. The Justice determining the voir dire will not have ready access to any other materials (including materials previously filed.) For s. 715.1 voir dires, Counsel must contact the local/regional Clerk’s Office to obtain a link to upload the video tape electronically.

A Case Management Justice will be appointed pursuant to s. 551.1 of the Criminal Code to rule on the voir dire. The Case Management Justice will usually be the presiding Justice at trial. If the Case Management Justice decides that the voir dire cannot be determined in writing, they may direct Counsel to provide additional written materials; or to a scheduling process for a hearing.

The Court’s response to the voir dire will be returned electronically with an Endorsement setting out brief reasons; or requiring additional information, or directing the parties to a scheduling process for a hearing.

For the information of counsel, the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta Criminal Procedure Rules, SI/2017-76 (Criminal Procedure Rules) provide for the submission of affidavit evidence and a written summary of the accused’s and the Crown’s legal argument for applications seeking a remedy under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.