VANCOUVER - Jurors hearing the B.C. legislature raid case have been asked if they can change their plans well into 2011, after the judge determined the case could stretch as many as 10 months.
The six men and six women on the panel were initially scheduled to sit for six weeks.
Jurors were thanked for the patience they've shown so far in the drawn-out case over allegations that confidential government documents were leaked during the 2003 sale of Crown-owned B.C. Rail. Then Justice Anne MacKenzie made her appeal.
"So I know you are committed to mid-July. But now the surprise," MacKenzie said in B.C. Supreme Court on Monday.
"Can you accommodate us until the end of March, with whatever miscellaneous days you need off to accommodate doctors appointments, dentists, serious family matters? That's the surprise, because that's the way the schedule is now."
The request was met with several raised eyebrows by the jurors.
The extended timetable could have thrown a wrench into the trial of Dave Basi and Bobby Virk, former government employees accused of fraud and breach of trust. Basi's cousin, Aneal Basi, is accused of money laundering.
But after a brief break to think it over, 10 jurors agreed to stay on. MacKenzie allowed two more to make inquiries as to whether they could change their plans and report back.
"A trial can continue with as few as 10 jurors, but it cannot continue with fewer than 10 jurors," defence lawyer Michael Bolton, who represents Dave Basi, said outside court.
MacKenzie told the panel they would also have part of July and most of August off, along with two weeks over Christmas.
"I know you have been extremely co-operative up until this point, and I know this is a lot to ask. But we would be and we are prepared to accommodate you," she said.
She added that there have been many trials in the same court building that have run that long before.
The trial began in mid-May, more than six years after the unprecedented search at the B.C. legislature, but has only sat about three days before the jury as lawyers discussed legal matters before the judge alone.
Testimony is expected to resume Wednesday.
NDP justice critic Leonard Krog, who has attended several days of hearings, said he never expected the trial to last just six weeks.
"I think we're going to get a full hearing of the case, that's part of the reason why we're here today and why we're slowed down once again," he said outside court.
"Ultimately what this really is about is getting to the truth behind the sale of B.C. Rail, and I think, and I'm still confident ... that we are going to get to that stage."