Jury facilities a concern, but not at top of list, says justice minister
Justice minister Darin King says a supreme court judge who complained about facilities for juries at Supreme Court in St. John's is entitled to his opinion, but government has to prioritize renovation needs for public buildings.
"When you sit around the cabinet table where you have many other pressing needs, like health care, and hospital facilities to be renovated and upgraded, and you have schools in deplorable conditions in some parts of the province, that we've been working hard to renovate, it comes down sometimes to make tough choices," said King.
Judge said complaints made to government
Justice Wayne Dymond said on Monday that a jury room at the downtown St. John's courthouse was too small, and the single bathroom was not adequate for 14 people. He noted that the building had another jury room, but problems arise when two jury trials happen at the same time.
Dymond added that complaints about the jury facilities have been made to government, but no action has been taken on the matter so far.
King, who took over the justice portfolio after a cabinet shuffle on Oct. 19, said he's still getting to know the issues within his department; however, he said he was aware of Dymond's concerns about the jury room, and he has been working with leaders in the justice system to sort out which issues require his immediate attention.
King has confidence in legal system
King also said that he's sure that the jury facilities won't affect the quality of the justice delivered.
"To say that the facility would impact the kind of judgement that a judge would render in a case, I think, would be a far stretch," said King. "I don't have any hesitation in expressing my confidence in the legal system and the work that the judges are doing." But, King said, he recognized that eventually something should be done about the jury facilities.
"Because it's not done today doesn't mean we don't see it as a priority. It means that we have to make choices within the limited ability to spend money that we have," said King.