New jury trials on hold until end of May in B.C. due to COVID-19

Jury selection has been cancelled everywhere in B.C. until the end of May as a result of the rapidly evolving situation with the COVID-19 virus, the Supreme Court announced Friday.

In criminal cases, an accused can elect to be tried by judge alone. In those cases, the trial will proceed during the scheduled time period.

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However, if an accused wants to be tried by a jury, the trial will be adjourned until after May 31. The case will be given priority once operations return to normal.

In civil cases, the parties may proceed without a jury if they wish and the trial will proceed as scheduled.

For jury trials already underway, the presiding judge will consider whether the trial should continue or be stood down for a period of time.

The court is also asking lawyers and parties to consider adjourning criminal civil or family matters which are scheduled to proceed between now and May 31 that do not urgently need to proceed.

Lawyers can apply to adjourn criminal proceedings through a new process by telephone or video appearance. Criminal proceedings that are adjourned because of COVID-19 will receive priority for re-scheduling, said the court.

Changes to adjourn civil and family proceedings will be introduced to minimize appearances in court.

More details will be available early next week, the court said.

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