Terrace lawyer now to be a judge

A much needed second sitting judge is still needed in Terrace.

DESPITE HAVING a local lawyer appointed to the bench, Terrace will not get a much needed second sitting judge.

Terence Wright will be a sitting in Smithers instead as of March 1.

The city hasn’t had two sitting judges since 2004 and a 2010 report indicates Terrace was tied with Surrey for the length of time in BC it takes to hold a half-day criminal trial. That length of time is 15 months for a half-day adult criminal case to reach its trial date, Terrace exceeds the court’s standards for scheduling by double.

The Office of the Chief Judge standard from the fixing of the trial date to the actual trial date is six months for an adult criminal half-day trial, according to the 2010 report prepared by BC provincial court officials.

For an adult criminal two-day trial, Terrace and Dawson Creek tied for second place for most time with 15 months delay, nearly double the standard of eight months from fixing trial date to actual trial date.

For civil claims, Terrace is first for the longest actual wait time from the settlement conference to a half-day trial at 13 months compared to the standard of four months.

For a half-day child protection hearing, it takes eight months to have it in Terrace compared to the standard of three months.

When asked why Terrace did not get a second judge, attorney general Shirley Bond said appointments were made after recommendations from the chief judge, who has the final decision.

“A variety of matters were taken into consideration, including caseload demands, recent transfers within the court, retirements or judges choosing to move to part-time status,” said  Bond.

“Appointing judges is just one of the solutions to ease pressures on the justice system and we anticipate the challenges in the court system in Terrace and right across the province will benefit from the review now underway and the significant investments we are making in justice services.”

Wright, born in Terrace, practised law here for more than 25 years.

Until his appointment, he was an associate with Warner Bandstra Brown and focused on criminal, family and civil litigation.