4 new Court of Queen's Bench judges appointed in Alberta
Announcement comes amid outcry over judge shortages
The federal government has appointed four new Court of Queen's Bench judges in Alberta, reducing the number of vacant seats from seven to three.
Alberta's new judges are:
- Criminal defence lawyer Willie deWit will serve in Calgary.
- Calgary litigator Michele Hollins will serve in Calgary.
- Provincial Court judge Marilyn Slawinsky has been elevated to the higher court in Red Deer.
- Lawyer Ritu Khullar will serve in Edmonton.
"We all go through different stages in life," said deWit.
"I've been practicing law for 22 years and was looking for a different thing and this seems like a logical choice and I was fortunate enough to be able to get it."
Justice Kristine Eidsvik made the announcement Friday morning in criminal appearance court.
Shortages and delays
The appointments come as Alberta deals with widespread shortages in the justice system.
Alberta has been struggling to deal with a backlog of cases, which was made worse after the Supreme Court decision in the Barrett Jordan case that declared the courts must set deadlines for when matters should go to trial.
Court of Queen's Bench case trials must now be concluded within 30 months, and provincial court matters within 18 months, with an extension to 30 months if the case includes a preliminary inquiry.
"We hadn't seen an increase in the number of federally appointed justices since 1996, so obviously we've had significant population increase since then, about 1.4 million people, so this will make a huge difference in the lives of people going through the court system," said Justice Minister and Solicitor General Kathleen Ganley.
In addition to the four appointments announced on Friday, the federal budget announced the creation of 12 new positions on the court.
With files from Meghan Grant