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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - October 31, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta WvdnMdcy, October 31, 1973-THE LETHBRIDOE HERALD-27 Alberta court system under fire Masterpiece found This painting, by the Flemish 17th century master, Peter Paul Rubens, was recently discovered with dust and grime in a storage warehouse by Oscar Klein of New York City. The masterpiece, now insured for million, has gone on exhibition at the Princeton University art museum. EDMONTON (CP) Stories of improperly-trained judges, inac facilities and unbearable caseloads have been unfolding before a board of review studying administration of justice in lower courts. The provincial government- appointed board, headed by Mr. Justice W. J. C. Kirby of the Alberta Supreme Court, has heard some strong in- dictments of the existing system. Following the first round of hearings in Grande Prairie, Red Deer and Edmonton, Mr. Justice Kirby, Max Wyman, president of the University of Alberta, and Ted Bower, editor of the Red Deer Ad- vocate, will resume hearing testimony in mid-November in other Alberta centres. Some of the most startling testimony came from a law student who cited a case in which an RCMP prosecutor entered a guilty plea without a man's consent. Dave Finlay, appearing on behalf of a legal services organization, used the case as an example of why lay judges should be removed from the bench. Mr. Finlay said the inci- dent involved a transient charged with theft under The man was released after putting up bail, but refus- ed an RCMP officer's sugges- tion that he sign a ore-printed form that would five the of- ficer the right to appear for him and enter a guilty plea. When the accused went to court, he found his case had already been dealt with. A guilty plea had been entered and the bail money was used to pay the fine. DIDN'T BOTHER Mr. Finlay said the judge did not bother to ask to see if the form was signed. "We feel this wouldn't have happened if the judge was legally trained." The attorney- general's department later investigated and had the con- viction quashed. Antiquated court facilities also have come under fire. The board was told that strategically-placed garbage cans collect water when it rains during hearings at Valleyview in the Peace River country. In Beayerlodge, spectators walking in and out of the courtroom during trials must pass in front of the judges' bench The situation in provincial known as magistrate's limited to smaller com- munities. Provincial court Judge John Coughlan said Ed- monton's provincial courthouse is "a mess, a dis- grace and most inadequate." Judge Coughlan said docket court, where persons make their first appearance, is fill- ed to capacity in the mornings with spectators and accused. The lawyers' bench is usually overflowing, with many re- quired to stand "lounging against the walls in a most un- dignified manner." The cramped facilities have resulted in elimination of retiring rooms where judges can talk to lawyers. And when a judge returns to his office during an adjournment, he must walk through a crowd that includes defendants, police and spectators Edmonton lawyer Rostyk Sadownik suggested appoint- ment of a special chambers judge, eliminating nec- essity for police and prosecutors to go to regular judges for arrest warrants and search applications. Such a system would mean that judges who will pass judgment will not hear about the cases from police seeking warrants. "Police talk too much." said Mr Sadownik "Let them and the Crown prosecutors tell their rumors to a judge who never goes into court to determine the guilt or in- nocence of any accused While the facilities and number of judges available to hear cases have remained constant over the last seven years in Edmonton, the caseload has increased cases in 1968. D. S. Huff, clerk of the Ed- monton provincial court, said this has led to a system where numerous cases are set down to be heard in each of the courtrooms with the knowledge that only a few will proceed While persons are called to appear in the morning, they often must wait until the afternoon, Mr Huff said. Mr Huff said an average day's docket in Edmonton lower courts includes more than 1.000 cases, covering remands, adjournments, first appearances, preliminary hearings and trials Four juvenile court judges said a lack of facilities for young offenders is crippling the courts ability to properly deal with them Medium Size, Extra Choice Sunkist Florida Grown, Red or White Large Size 48's 9uiiiuai wibw TV o OBAN6ES GRAPEFRUIT Alberta Grown, Canada No. 2 Grade Red or White POTATOES Cirnitlon Frozen STEAK FRIES 2 Ib. pkg. Cirnition Shoestring FRENCH FRIES Frozen 4 Ib. pkg. Each WITH THIS COUPON YOU MAY PURCHASE BUTTER FluffoShortening Mixed Nuts sssrr. Sdrdines r0frMargarita Brana 5 d, Cherry Hill Danish 4 02. pkg. Cream Cheese 3d-00 1000 Island, Cole Slaw, French, Italian Dressings E.43C WITH THIS COUPON YOU MAY PURCHASE Crisco ;