What use is a Preliminary Hearing? Axworthy asks

Saskatchewan's justice minister is fighting to put an end to preliminary hearings in court cases.

Saskatchewan's justice minister is fighting to put an end to preliminary hearings in court cases.

Chris Axworthy and some of his counterparts from other provinces say the hearings are a wasted step that take up too much time and cost too much money.

On the other hand, a top defense lawyer in this province says preliminary hearings often cut out the trial process. Mark Brayford says many hearings result in a guilty plea, or a deal between the two sides. He says ending the practice will mean more trials.

"Just think of all those people that will have to go through a jury trial – that never would have had to [if they had reached a deal at a preliminary hearing]."

Brayford says preliminary hearings can also protect child witnesses, who are often required to testify only at the hearing and not at the higher-profile trial.