A plan for a new provincial court judge is being discussed, says Trinity Bay North MHA Ross Wiseman.
The Clarenville Provincial Court House
It’s been several months since Judge Patrick Kennedy retired.
Since then, the Clarenville Provincial Court House has been making due by having Judge Harold Porter make short court appearances via video conferencing from Grand Falls-Windsor.
The Clarenville area is a busy one with 11 private lawyers, legal aid and a Crown Office. Tensions have been mounting among local barristers over the problems created by having a high volume of court related activities and no resident judge.
Last month, Judge Porter benched an attempt by lawyers in Clarenville to get him to appear in person rather than by video conferencing.
Wiseman says he has recently had a conversation with Justice Minister Terry French and they are working on finding a replacement.
“The temporary arrangement of video conferencing obviously creates some inconvenience. I had a recent conversation with the minister to find out where they are in the process. He’s indicated to me that there is no question around the intent to fill Judge Kennedy’s position and there are some internal things the department needs to deal with first,” says Wiseman.
Wiseman says the video conferencing was put in place so the justice system could continue to function and appearances could occur while the department is actively recruiting a replacement.
“Hopefully in the not too distant future, they’ll have a candidate to fill the role,” says Wiseman.
Wiseman says he can’t be tied down to a time frame, but that the minister is optimistic they will be successful and make an appointment when the person is identified.
“The issue the local legal community has raised are some questions around timing and I appreciate that. To them, and the people who access the court system, it’s very different than having an in-person appearance and having a judge in the courtroom to deal with issues before them,” says Wiseman.
He says it is a huge change in practice for the lawyers who use the court.
“I’ve assured them that the department is committed to ensuring this is not a long-term piece and hopefully with a successful recruitment process, they’ll have someone in that position. It’s more of a recruitment issue than anything else.”