Jury selection and jury trials, paused since the March 15, 2020, suspension of regular Court operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, are scheduled to resume in off-site locations throughout the province, with the first jury selections having been conducted this morning in Edmonton for jury trials commencing on September 14, 2020. The first scheduled jury trial in Calgary is slated to start on September 28, 2020.
As announced earlier, public health guidelines, including physical distancing requirements, mandated criminal jury selections and trials must occur at facilities outside of existing courthouses.
This is consistent with the recommendations of the Action Committee on Court Operations in Response to COVID-19, available at the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs website.
Jury summonses have already been issued in some jurisdictions, accompanied by a “Juror Summons and COVID-19 Information” pamphlet providing additional information about the precautions that are being implemented to minimize the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
Court of Queen’s Bench Chief Justice Mary Moreau wants to assure all Albertans, especially those selected to attend a jury selection process and possibly be selected as a juror for a criminal trial proceeding, that all public health and safety guidelines applicable to courthouses throughout the province will be in place for all participants.
“Jurors perform a very important service to the community and to the administration of justice,” said Chief Justice Moreau. “Their willingness to participate in the process of jury selection and jury service ensures the continuation of one of our most important democratic rights, that being, the right to be judged by a jury of one’s peers - a right that is available to all of us.
“Our law provides a detailed procedure for choosing jurors,” continued Chief Justice Moreau. “With guidance from the National Action Committee, this procedure has been adapted in Alberta. Health and safety protocols developed by the Government of Alberta, in conjunction with the Courts, for screening, physical distancing, mask wear and sanitation are in place at the off-site court facilities. Courtrooms and jury deliberation rooms are designed to comply with the physical distancing and other health and safety recommendations of the Chief Medical Officer of Health of Alberta.”
Arrangements have been made for the safety and security of jurors, witnesses, counsel, and all others attending off-site criminal jury trials, including a public screening area enforced by the Alberta Sheriffs Branch. There are separate entrances for accused persons and/or witnesses in custody, private spaces for counsel to consult with clients and all off-site facilities have readily available parking and access to public transit where possible. There will also be some seating available in each courtroom for the public and media.
Jury selections and jury trials in the Judicial Centre of Edmonton will be held at the Bonaventure Gate Writing Centre, 13156 St. Albert Trail.
Jury selections in the Judicial Centre of Calgary will be held at the Big Four Building, 1801 Big Four Trail SE and the jury trials will be held at Stampede Grandstand, 3 Street SE.
Jury selections and jury trials will also be held in off-site leased premises in all regional judicial centres of the province.
For more information, contact Darryl Ruether, Executive Legal Counsel, Director – Calgary, Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta at Darryl.Ruether@albertacourts.ca.
Bonaventure Gate Writing Centre - Judicial Centre of Edmonton
Calgary Stampede Grandstand - Judicial Centre of Calgary