Multiplex closure delays trial and selection of jury from pool of 700
The City of Yellowknife’s decision to close its multiplex in the face of rising Covid-19 cases has delayed by three weeks the start of an NWT Supreme Court jury trial in a murder and robbery case.
The Crown must reschedule witnesses and 700 potential jurors will receive notices stating that jury selection will now be held on February 7 and 8 at the multiplex’s DND gymnasium.
“Those individuals will have to be contacted by the sheriff’s office to be advised the date has changed and the location has changed, because they were initially summonsed for the Chateau Nova Hotel on January 17,” Justice Shannon Smallwood said in court on Friday.
The judge said a random draw will place individuals for jury selection into one of four time slots on February 7 at 10am and 2pm or February 8 at 10am and 2pm.
Potential jurors must show proof of vaccination.
In only the second NWT jury trial since the pandemic’s onset, Levi Cayen faces murder and robbery charges in connection with the death of Alex Norwegian in the Hay River area on Boxing Day 2017.
The trial is scheduled to take five weeks.
The city has closed the multiplex to the public until at least January 22 following recommendations from Chief Public Health Officer Dr Kami Kandola related to certain indoor sports.
Court cases in the Northwest Territories are extremely backlogged after repeated postponements since a territorial public health emergency was first declared in 2020.
While the situation is worse in NWT Territorial Court, there are currently just under 80 pending Supreme Court jury trials.