Around three hundred people spent a fruitless morning inside Yellowknife’s Chateau Nova Hotel as an apparent lack of interpreter held up jury selection.
Hundreds of potential jurors, having arrived for a 10am start, sat for more than two hours in a third-floor conference room after receiving a summons from the sheriff.
Several members of the jury pool contacted Cabin Radio after the wait extended beyond 90 minutes.
Finally, according to two residents present, it was announced shortly after 12pm that court would be adjourned “because we do not have an interpreter.”
The several hundred people involved must now reconvene in two sessions at the neighbouring Explorer Hotel on Tuesday.
“The department is concerned about the adjournment and the impact on those who attended jury selection today. We can confirm that we will have two interpreters available for tomorrow,” read a statement issued to Cabin Radio by the Department of Justice late on Monday.
The department did not answer a question about what had happened to its interpreter, but did say two interpreters would be on hand for Tuesday’s rescheduled session.
“We recognize that this presents an inconvenience to those who attended and will attend again tomorrow,” the statement continued. “However, cancellation of those jury summonses could result in the matter being delayed a number of months before another jury selection could be scheduled.
“The passage of time can negatively impact trials as witness availability and people’s recollection of events tend to deteriorate over time.”
The total cost to the department of the day-long postponement comes to $1,540, it said – a useless $350 spent on the Chateau Nova’s conference room, followed by $1,190 for the Explorer Hotel’s facilities at short notice on Tuesday.
According to the department, 540 people were served with a summons for this jury selection process, of whom 148 were excused prior to the selection convening – leaving 392 potential jurors who were expected to attend on Monday, and will be expected again on Tuesday.
Cabin Radio understands some in the jury pool were able to put Monday’s time to good use, deciding if the end wall of the conference room more closely corresponds to Pantone Oyster Mushroom or Duckegg.
The unusually large pool of jurors for the trial led the Chateau Nova parking lot to resemble a dumping ground for F-150s, with vehicles almost spilling out onto Highway 3 as every available stall was taken.