Judge shortage on P.E.I. causing delays at Supreme Court, chief justice says

The Supreme Court trial division in P.E.I. is short two judges out of a full complement of five.

David Jenkins says some trials being adjourned, motions getting cancelled

P.E.I. Chief Justice David Jenkins says he hopes the shortage of Supreme Court judges in the province will be addressed by the end of the month. (Laura Meader/CBC)

P.E.I.'s Supreme Court is short two judges and, as a result, cases are not moving through the court as quickly as they should, says P.E.I. Appeal Court Chief Justice David Jenkins.

"Delays, for sure, right now," he said. "There are trials that are being adjourned and sometimes motions get cancelled, too."

The court usually operates with five sitting judges, but currently has only three.

It's really unprecedented for the court to be down this many judges.- P.E.I. Chief Justice David Jenkins

"It's really unprecedented for the court to be down this many judges," Jenkins said.

The Supreme Court is a trial court, which hears a variety of civil, family and criminal cases. Jenkins couldn't put an exact time frame on how much longer people and their lawyers are waiting, but described delays as being "very real."

"It would be much better to see these positions filled and have the court at full complement," he said. 

Part-time judges

Justice Wayne Cheverie cut his hours to half-time a year ago. That position was filled last spring by Justice Tracey Clements. 

The Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island is expected to have new judges appointed soon. (Laura Meader)

In January, Chief Justice Jacqueline Matheson reduced her hours to half-time also.

Justice Benjamin Taylor retired at the end of August. That position has not yet been filled.

More judges could be coming

Jenkins is hopeful new judges will be appointed soon. He said there are qualified candidates available, and recommendations have been made, but it's up to Ottawa to make the appointments.

"I would hope by the end of this month that we could see the matter resolved," he said.


  • A previous version of this story said Justice Tracey Clements was working part-time. She is working full-time. The earlier version also stated that Justices Matheson and Cheverie are retired. They are actually supernumerary, which means they are eligible for retirement, but are working half-time.
    Oct 17, 2017 4:28 PM AT