Justice Parrett to Retire
Prince George, B.C. – He has presided over most of the high profile cases in Prince George, and after 25 years as a Supreme Court Justice, Mr. Justice Glen Parrett is retiring.Justice Parrett’s reputation as someone whose high regard for the law, the Judicial and court system, means there will be no shenanigans in his courtroom, that Counsel and Crown best be prepared and be on time . As for members of the media, they best get it right, otherwise, they might find themselves being called to his courtroom for an extremely uncomfortable “chat”.
Born in Victoria, he received his law degree from the University of B.C. in 1972.
He practiced law in Prince George at the firm of Hope Heinrich and was appointed Queen’s Counsel on Christmas Eve in 1987.
In February of 1990, he was appointed to the Supreme Court of B.C. in Vancouver. At the time, he was one of the youngest to be appointed to the Supreme Court and one of the last two appointed to the Supreme Court before it merged with the County Court. It was a merger he had supported as a member of the Justice Reform Committee chaired by Ted Hughes in 1988 which examined access to justice.
He would return to Prince George as a resident Supreme Court Justice in the summer of 1992 .
Justice Parrett was often tasked with handling high profile, long trials. The most recent being that of Cody Alan Legebokoff. That trial, with pre-submissions, a voire dire and direct trial, took more than a year. It resulted in a jury finding Legebokoff guilty of first degree murder in the deaths of Loren Leslie, Natasha Montgomery, Cynthia Maas and Jill Stuchenko.
It was not the only high profile, long lasting court matter over which he would preside.
He was also the presiding Justice on the Carrier Lumber trial, which pitted the company against the Provincial government over a forest licence.
There was the Elaho Valley protesters contempt of court case which saw Justice Parrett hand down a one year sentence to Betty Krawczyk. The sentence was later reduced by the Court of Appeal to “time served” which in Ms. Krawczyk’s case was four months.
“I probably did four or five trials that each lasted over a year” says Justice Parrett. “They were very different trials, but they were each, in their own way, pretty memorable.” While they were memorable, he says some were more difficult than others “The ones that are, without a doubt, the most difficult in many ways, are the ones involving young children and Willow River is probably the top of that.”
He is referring to the trial of Crystal Henricks and James Bennett, a Willow River couple accused and convicted in the sexual assault of numerous victims, including children.
Justice Parrett took special steps for the jury that sat through that particular trial . He called on the Attorney General’s department and Court Services to ensure there would be counselling in place for the members of the jury ” I could do nothing for them, except warn them going in, but I got endless support from the Ministry and Court Services to have counselling available for that jury when they returned their verdict. ” Justice Parrett says that particular trial was “incredibly difficult on everybody associated with it.”
But his work wasn’t always about what was happening inside the courtroom, in fact, he was a key player in making sure there was a courtroom in which to hold a trial.
Justice Parrett was actively involved in the development of the new Prince George Courthouse. “We had needed a facility for a long time, that’s the reality.” The previous courthouse is now the Prince George Native Friendship Centre. There had been promises of a new facility and Justice Parrett had been involved in a series of discussions about the need for a new facility. While the idea was accepted by government, there was a concern the plan was going to be shelved. Justice Parrett rallied some supporters, who turned up the heat until the government agreed to move forward and Justice Parrett became the Court’s representative on the building committee throughout the construction of the new facility. “It (the courthouse) is a key component, not just for us (Prince George) but for the North, because if you go out to the courthouses in outlying communities, they have no capacity to hold high security trials and this courthouse was designed so that it would have the capacity to do those trials from around the region, and it has done that.”
Although his retirement is effective at the end of May, as of today, he is only scheduled to sit until this Friday , although there may be a few matters needing some closure that could see him on the bench till the middle of May.
“I’ve been honoured to do this job for over 25 years, it has been exciting, it’s been incredibly draining, it’s been a lot of fun” says Justice Parrett, “I have a long line of people I have to thank, and among them are the hundreds, if not thousands of jurors over the years. I think jurors, almost to a person, did a phenomenal job.”
The record for successful appeals of his jury trials speaks volumes “One of the most valued things to me in the time I spent on this Court, is I have one remaining outstanding, but I have never been overturned on a jury trial.”
That outstanding matter is the leave to appeal filed by Counsel for Cody Legebokoff, the Court of Appeal has not yet released a decision on whether it will hear the matter.
When Justice Parrett retires, there will only be one Supreme Court Justice at the Prince George courthouse who actually resides in Prince George (Justice Ron Tindale). That will leave little option should there be more than one long trial underway and that is a concern for Justice Parrett “The people up here have got to be on their guard to make sure that they continue to get the service that they deserve and right now, we’re missing a number of judges who should be sitting here, and we are too busy to allow the present situation to continue. “