COVID-19: Criminal lawyers running skeletal crew to keep courtrooms running in Calgary

The Calgary Courts Centre is shown in downtown Calgary on Friday, March 13, 2020. Dean Pilling/Postmedia

A handful of Calgary criminal lawyers are appearing as agents for their fellow defence counsel to keep the numbers of bodies at the courthouse to a minimum.

Criminal Defence Lawyers’ Association vice-president Rebecca Snukal said Monday the Calgary bar is banding together to help limit the potential spread of COVID-19.

“There’s an agency list constructed for whoever wants us to do their stuff,” Snukal said.

“We are sharing the load,” she said of the group of 10 to 15 members of the CDLA who are pitching in to help others.

“There are probably eight, or nine, of us that are regularly doing it.”

While Court of Queen’s Bench has all but shut down its criminal matters, provincial court, which has daily docket courts, has been continuing.

Cases involving individuals who are not in custody are being

adjourned for 10 weeks

, but lawyers still have to appear in court on a daily basis to reschedule them.

“It’s to help our members that don’t want to be exposed, that are at greater risk, to help our members that are in quarantine,” Snukal said. “It’s to reduce the number of lawyers that are in the courtroom.”

Adult provincial court routinely has up to 16 courtrooms running on a daily basis.

That was down to three on Monday.

Snukal said a handful of Crown prosecutors are also carrying the daily load and the CDLA will continue offering a list of agents for lawyers who can’t make it to the Calgary Courts Centre.

“We’re going to go on as long as we have to,” she said.

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