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Vacancy filled but courthouse staffing shortage remains

By Adam Riley Nov 24, 2023 | 3:04 PM

File Photo: Fort Frances Courthouse (Randy Thoms / Acadia Broadcasting)

The President of the Rainy River District Law Association is happy to see the region have a sitting judge back in the courthouse.

Earlier this month Justice Terry Peter Waltenbury began sitting in the Fort Frances Courthouse, filling a decade long vacancy on the bench.

Douglas Judson says having this leadership in the court will help develop what he calls a responsive court system.

“We’ll have someone there who is able to be sort of the primary decision maker. They’re not driving in from out of town, they aren’t looking to leave before it gets dark everyday to head back. It means we should be able to get through cases faster.”

Judson notes this will also prevent any administrative issues with files and other documents not having to be shipped in and out of the area, preventing the chance of losing them.

But as one need is filled at the courthouse another is unfilled.

Judson says staffing has become a bit of a game of “whack’a’mole” with a shortage of court staff now.

“So the people who do the clerking in the court and work the counter when you go in to file documents, that’s a province wide crisis, that we’re having difficulty attracting people into those roles.”

Previously even the Crown Attorney’s office had difficulty filling vacancies, fortunately Judson says that issue has been addressed with three to four lawyers now working at that office.