Abbotsford ‘not in a foreign country,’ judge chastises lawyer

Judge addresses complaint about inconvenience of driving from Vancouver

Lawyers who complain about having to drive from Vancouver to Abbotsford for case proceedings should learn to live with it, a provincial court judge said during a recent court ruling.

“Abbotsford is a city located within the province of British Columbia, coincidentally the same province that Vancouver is located in,” Judge Kenneth Skilnick said.

“It is not in a foreign country and one may access Abbotsford by motor vehicle without having to clear customs, ride a ferry or proceed through any sort of checkpoints.”

Skilnick addressed the issue Feb. 9 during a hearing in Abbotsford for a federal inmate who said that, because his institutional parole officer raised his escape-risk and public-safety rating, he had been denied movement to a minimum-security prison or the ability to obtain escorted temporary absences.

The inmate claimed that he had suffered damages – including anxiety, depression, insomnia and weight loss – and should be awarded $25,000.

Skilnick dismissed the claim, but during the proceedings, he addressed a statement made by the parole officer’s Vancouver-based lawyer, who said that it was an inconvenience for him to have to drive to Abbotsford to deal with the “frivolous” application.

“This is a complaint that is being heard by me and my colleagues who are judges in this community with increasing frequency lately, especially from many junior lawyers from Vancouver,” Skilnick said.

The judge said he wanted to address any misconceptions that exist about Abbotsford.

“No one is asked to present their ‘papers’ when entering this city. Persons visiting Abbotsford from Vancouver do not require a passport or any type of inoculation or shots before coming here.”

The judge indicated that the distance from Vancouver provincial court to the Abbotsford courthouse is 67.5 kilometres and “patient drivers” make the trek each day “with most of their sanity intact.”

“For many years now Abbotsford has had electricity and indoor plumbing. Its drinking water is not only safe, but has even won international awards. Abbotsford is a generous community and often ranks first in the nation in charitable donations per capita,” Skilnick said.

He added that anyone who feels at a disadvantage because their out-of-town lawyer must travel to Abbotsford should be reminded that “this city is home to a large number of very able and competent lawyers and law firms.”

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