Nunavut judge halts hearing over security concerns
Chief justice postpones proceeding over 'absence of any real protection' for participants
Nunavut’s chief justice halted proceedings in a preliminary hearing Monday in Iqaluit due to concerns about security.
Justice Robert Kilpatrick postponed the hearing at the Nunavut Court of Justice before it began and said the hearing will not take place "without an adequate level of security inside the courtroom."
The preliminary hearing is for 27-year-old Colin Makpah, who is charged with manslaughter in the death of DJ Gamble in Rankin Inlet in August 2010.
Kilpatrick said in a written statement released Monday that there is an "absence of any real protection" in the court.
"The Nunavut Court of Justice must often conduct proceedings without an adequate level of security inside the courtroom. No other court in the country is required to sit without an adequate level of protection for justice system participants, court personnel and judiciary.
"The courtroom … is often a difficult and volatile environment. This is particularly true in proceedings involving homicides where the family of the deceased can be expected to attend.
"The absence of any real protection inside the courtroom exposes all justice system participants and court personnel to an obvious and very real occupational hazard."
He wrote that Sheriff Services lacks the equipment and training to provide in-court security and the RCMP, who are unable to attend the hearing, are under no legal obligation to provide courtroom security.
He added the matter of security had been raised to the government in 2010 by the senior judge but no action has been taken.
At the end of his statement Kilpatrick writes "Enough is enough. Change is needed and is overdue."
He wrote the preliminary hearing may be cancelled unless changes are made.
The Makpah matter was adjourned until Tuesday morning.