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An Inside Look at Circuit Court Judging in BC's North

Written on Thursday, February 25th, 2016

The BC Provincial Court's eNews service recently posted a fascinating look at the job of a circuit judge in our province's north.

The post is titled "Wanted: judge, cook, teacher and long distance driver" and it describes the "adventuresome spirit and varied life skills" required for judges whose job it is to travel between the dozens of Provincial Court locations in remote parts of BC.

Circuit court judging is "very rewarding" but at the same time "not for the faint-hearted". Here are a few interesting aspects of the duties of a judge working in the Provincial Court's Northern Circuit:

  • "Travel is a big part of the circuit. Expect to drive about 1600 – 1800 kilometers in a week." (During winter, judges regularly encourage extreme cold, whiteouts, and road closures. In the spring, flooding is a regular concern.)
  • "There is internet access at the hotels in Atlin and Watson Lake. There is no cell phone service outside of Whitehorse (unless you use Nortel, then there is cell phone service in Watson Lake)."
  • "There are a limited number of restaurants in all of the locations, so you will have to prepare many of your own meals and pack lunches." (Kitchen facilities are available in some hotels.)
  • "Most criminal matters involve substance abuse and/or violence." (Most of the matters are criminal, but there are some youth and family matters as well.)
  • "Although this is an opportunity to see northern BC, it certainly is not a vacation."

Despite the challenges, the post notes that judges who work the circuits "value the opportunity to make a difference in remote communities with limited resources, and to get to know community members - often First Nations members – who meet daunting challenges in order to help others." During the winter, judges are also often accompanied by UBC law students in the Court's Intern program.

To see a few pictures of the life of a northern circuit court judge, visit eNews.



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