What is a Circuit Court?

Circuit Court

The Nunavut Court of Justice covers the entire territory of Nunavut with respect to the provision of court services. As such, the Court travels to approximately 85% of the communities (25 communities) across the territory. The Court does not travel to the smaller communities, (those which do not have RCMP detachments) where very little crime is reported.

The Court travels to communities depending on need, and can visit as frequently as every 6 weeks, or as infrequently as every 2 years. The circuit court can travel to multiple communities in a week depending on the number of cases and charges in each community. In an average week, court will sit both in Iqaluit and at least one other community.

Members of the circuit court include a Judge, clerk of the court, court reporter, prosecutor and at least one defence attorney. Court workers and victim witness assistants might also travel with the circuit court depending on the cases to be heard.   Interpreters are hired in the communities when possible but travel with the circuit court when necessary.

Court is held in community halls, school gyms, and in other conference facilities as available. All court proceedings in the communities are interpreted for the public. Elders sit with the Judge in the courtroom and are given the opportunity to speak with the accused following sentencing submissions and prior to the passing of sentence. The volume of cases handled in both criminal and civil jurisdiction requires the assistance not only of the resident Judiciary, but also of a wide network of deputy judges and community Justices of the Peace.