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Yukon courts amend procedures in light of COVID-19

Wednesday, March 18, 2020 @ 3:18 PM | By Ian Burns

The Supreme Court and Territorial Court of Yukon are implementing a number of measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the Supreme Court, all currently scheduled cases will be heard by telephone appearance only, conditional on court staff, lawyers and litigants being healthy. Judicial settlement conferences will be adjourned. In exceptional cases, if in-person hearings are requested and approved, social distancing must be maintained by all present.

There will be no jury trials set in March, April or May. All in-custody appearances will be by videoconferencing. More information can be found here.

For the Territorial Court, until further notice no members of the public will be permitted in courtrooms unless required for a court matter, or unless the court directs otherwise. Those able to be in the courtroom include: counsel, parties, witnesses, probation officers, Crown witness co-ordinators, victim services workers, support workers or other similar persons. Media will also be within the permitted class of persons.

There will be no circuit travel by the court party. All matters where the accused is not in custody will be adjourned from the upcoming court circuit for a period of at least two regularly scheduled court circuits. All in-custody matters will be presumed to proceed as expeditiously as possible. In cases where the matter has not been set for trial, preliminary inquiry or sentencing, the matter shall be adjourned to a Whitehorse docket court to be spoken to by counsel. In other cases, however, the expectation is that every effort will be made by counsel to agree to have all these matters utilize technology.

Alleged offenders and witnesses will not be required to travel between the communities or from outside Yukon for court proceedings, unless the court directs otherwise. In those cases where counsel cannot agree and an application is required, the court will accept informal applications for audio and video appearances.