Canada: Ontario courts remain in technology’s dark ages, chief justice says - PressFrom - Canada
  •   
  •   
  •   

CanadaOntario courts remain in technology’s dark ages, chief justice says

12:55  24 june  2019
12:55  24 june  2019 Source:   thestar.com

Doug Ford revokes 2 foreign Ontario government appointments after allegations of nepotism

Doug Ford revokes 2 foreign Ontario government appointments after allegations of nepotism A senior government source confirms to Global News that Premier Doug Ford has decided to revoke the appointments of Tyler Albrecht and Taylor Shields to postings in New York City and London, England. It comes after Global News first reported Thursday night of a relationship between the Premier's Chief of Staff Dean French's son and Albrecht. It also comes after Global News inquired about a possible family connection between French and Shields. Multiple sources tell Global News that Shields is cousins with French's wife.

Complaint against Chief Justice , Associate Chief Justice or regional senior judge of the Ontario Court of Justice . (2) If the Chief Justice of Ontario is absent from Ontario or is for any reason unable to act, his or her powers and duties shall be exercised and performed by the Associate Chief

Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin leads the rest of the Supreme Court justices through the Senate Chamber in this 2015 file photo. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is facing a choice between the first francophone chief justice of the Supreme Court in 17 years, or a dark -horse candidate from Ontario

Ontario courts remain in technology’s dark ages, chief justice says © Richard Lautens Ontario Superior Court Chief Justice Heather Smith, shown in Osgoode Hall in Toronto, is retiring at the end of June. “I get immense satisfaction from getting a job done,” she said. “This is particularly true for a job that I have absolutely loved.”

Courtrooms littered with paper. Courthouses with poor access to Wi-Fi, or none at all. A heavily used fax machine in the main office.

The scenario might have made sense in another era, yet it is still the way Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice operates today, at a time when inefficiencies and delays in the legal system are under increased scrutiny and the outside world has gone almost completely digital.

Ontario’s new attorney general should reverse cuts to legal aid

Ontario’s new attorney general should reverse cuts to legal aid Ontario has a new attorney general, Doug Downey, who is no doubt facing a massive to-do list. But before he starts on any new projects, Downey should revisit a decision made in April by his predecessor, Caroline Mulroney, to slash the province’s legal aid budget by 30 per cent. At the time, Mulroney claimed the move would ensure “lower-income Ontarians continue to have access to the justice that they need.” That didn’t make sense then, and it doesn’t make sense now. The fact is, cutting funding for legal aid will further erode any hope the poor and vulnerable have of receiving justice in a system that’s already stacked against them.

The Ontario Court of Justice is primarily comprised of courts functioning in the traditional manner. In order to effectively manage court resources, the establishment of, or changes to, a specialized criminal court requires the approval of the Regional Senior Justice and Chief Justice .

When the chief justice is in the majority, he decides who writes the opinion of the court ; otherwise, the senior justice in the majority assigns the task of writing His proposal envisioned appointment of one additional justice for each incumbent justice who reached the age of 70 years 6 months and refused

Aside from the fact that recordings of court proceedings are now digital, “there really is no difference walking into a courtroom at 361 University Ave. than there was 40 years ago,” said Superior Court Chief Justice Heather Smith.

As she prepares to retire at the end of June, Smith highlighted the successes of her court in a wide-ranging interview with the Star at her Osgoode Hall office and through written answers to other questions.

But she also pointed to challenges that she said cannot be fully tackled until the court receives the support it needs from Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General, which is responsible for funding the courts and has control over issues like staffing, facilities and technology.

Smith spent a decade as a prosecutor with the federal Department of Justice, and is believed to have been the first female federal prosecutor in Canada, before she was named to the bench in 1983.

Georgetown doctor who showed female patients naked selfies called ‘slithery dragon’ at hearing on whether he should keep his licence

Georgetown doctor who showed female patients naked selfies called ‘slithery dragon’ at hearing on whether he should keep his licence A Georgetown family doctor found to have sexually abused his patients by showing them naked photos of himself was described by one patient as a “slithery dragon” she sees in her nightmares, a penalty hearing at Ontario’s medical regulator heard Monday. Dr. Nigel Mark Phipps was found guilty last year by a five-member discipline panel at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario of sexually abusing 11 female patients by showing them the naked selfies. Phipps had admitted to the panel that he showed the patients and staff members an array of photos on his cell phone, but denied that it constituted sexual abuse.

Chief Justice of Ontario raises concerns about ‘cost, complexity and time it takes to Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin has taken up the cause at the national scale, and legal organizations have Ontario ' s courts face "significant" challenges, Strathy said , "but they are not unsurmountable."

Ontario Superior Court of Justice . Read in another language. Watch this page. Edit. The Superior Court of Justice (French: Cour supérieure de justice ) is a superior court in Ontario . The Court sits in 52 locations across the province, including 17 Family Court locations

The Superior Court handles all civil cases, a large proportion of family matters and the most serious criminal cases including murder. When Smith was elevated to become its chief justice by prime minister Jean Chrétien in 2002, she says the court’s main challenge was technology.

In 2019, it still is.

The struggle in bringing the court fully into the 21st century is primarily due to an “inadequate” level of activity by successive provincial governments, she said.

Smith bluntly describes the amount of paper that must still be filed in each case, often in person or by fax, and moved through the courtrooms in baskets and binders: “This is madness.”

Even digital files end up being turned into paper copies for filing, she pointed out. And then files get lost, leading to delays, while money is wasted on paper storage costs that are borne by the Ministry of the Attorney General.

“I’m surprised that the public has been as patient as it is. It’s like stepping back in time,” Smith said.

Date set for carbon case hearing before Canada's top court

Date set for carbon case hearing before Canada's top court The Supreme Court of Canada has tentatively set Dec. 5 to hear Saskatchewan’s challenge of the federally imposed carbon tax — and the province plans to follow through even if Andrew Scheer becomes prime minister. 

The Judicial Branch is a history of the Supreme Court of the United States, organized by Chief Justice . The Supreme Court of the United States is the only court specifically established by the Constitution of the United States, implemented in 1789; under the Judiciary Act of 1789

The Chief Justice is both the head of United States federal court system and the chief judge of the Supreme Court of the United States. In general, the Chief Justice has not previously served as an Associate Justice before his appointment to the highest position.

She dismissed any suggestion that the judiciary is an obstacle in modernizing the court system, a criticism that has been levelled at it in the past. She said that the biggest challenge for new judges — 78 appointed since April 2016, of whom 51 are female — is adjusting to an antiquated way of doing things.

The Star contacted the attorney general’s office for comment prior to Thursday’s cabinet shuffle, which saw MPP Doug Downey replace Caroline Mulroney as attorney general. The Star did not receive a response.

During Smith’s tenure, the court established a council of regional senior judges which has worked to make improvements to the court within areas that fall exclusively under the court’s jurisdiction.

Recent changes include a direction to streamline case management of criminal matters to make sure charges are not stayed due to unconstitutional delays. The court has worked with the Ontario Court of Justice to ensure cases originating there but destined for the Superior Court (such as murder) get there within 12 months, where possible.

Ontario's top court set to rule on whether federal carbon tax is constitutional

Ontario's top court set to rule on whether federal carbon tax is constitutional Ontario's top court is set to release a decision Friday on whether the federal government can impose a carbon tax on provinces it believes aren't doing enough to fight climate change. The Court of Appeal heard arguments about the federal carbon tax over a period of four days in April, with the Ontario government saying it is unconstitutional and can't be legally enforced. In a rare move, the court allowed the legal battle to be televised — the first time in more than a decade cameras were allowed into an appeal court to livestream an event.

The Chief Justice of Kenya is the head of the Judiciary of Kenya and President of the Supreme Court of Kenya and is an office established under Article 161 of the Kenyan Constitution. He or she is assisted by the Deputy Chief Justice who is also the Deputy President of the Supreme Court .

The Chief Justice of Pakistan (initials as CJP) is the head of the court system of Pakistan (the judicature branch of government) and the chief judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Meanwhile, changes made in civil court this year will reduce last-minute adjournments and prevent cases from lingering in the system, Smith said. A “one-judge” pilot project was launched in February, under which a single judge will be assigned to case-manage a matter and preside over all of its pretrial hearings and the actual trial. In family court, a strategic plan has been developed to prioritize cases involving families in crisis and children at risk.

She has also sought to improve the education provided to judges joining the court. At her direction, her office launched a program in May 2018 to educate judges on sexual assault law; it’s required for all newly appointed judges, but also available to others who want to refresh their knowledge. The weeklong course includes papers, National Judicial Institute videos and a review of major cases, and the new judges are expected to meet with their regional senior judge after having reviewed the material.

The chief justice also established an Indigenous judicial advisory committee last year, which considers how to educate judges on Indigenous issues and increasing engagement by judges with Indigenous communities.

Finally, the court has become much more of a public institution during Smith’s tenure. It launched a Twitter account, and Smith said her office is working on providing timely responses to media inquiries. She said this reflects the court’s willingness to be more transparent and to engage with the public.

In dissent on carbon pricing, a 'traditionalist' judge puts Ottawa in its place

In dissent on carbon pricing, a 'traditionalist' judge puts Ottawa in its place Justice Grant Huscroft, who wrote the dissenting opinion when Ontario’s Court of Appeal ruled on Friday that the federal government’s carbon pricing scheme is constitutional, stands out from his colleagues for a few different reasons. It was rare for a law professor to be named directly to the top court in Ontario, as Huscroft was by Stephen Harper in 2014, after a career at Western University and in New Zealand. The few others promoted in this way include such big legal names as Bora Laskin, later a Chief Justice of Canada, and Walter Tarnopolsky, an expert on human rights law. For a judge, Huscroft is also unusual as a vocal opponent of judicial activism.

John G. Roberts, Jr., Chief Justice of the United States, was born in Buffalo, New York, January 27, 1955. He married Jane Marie Sullivan in 1996 He served as a law clerk to Justice Arthur Goldberg of the Supreme Court of the United States during the 1964 Term, as a Special Assistant to the Assistant

The Chief Justice of South Africa is the most senior judge of the Constitutional Court and head of the judiciary of South Africa, who exercises final authority over the functioning and management of all the

“It also opens the court to greater public criticism,” she said. “I accept that this is a risk, but this risk is unavoidable for any modern institution that wishes to demonstrate it is worthy of the public’s confidence.”

Courtroom space remains another big problem, Smith said, particularly in busy jurisdictions such as Toronto, Brampton and Milton.

In Brampton, Regional Senior Justice Peter Daley took the extraordinary step last year of allowing cameras into the courtroom as he called out the government for a lack of action on crowding at one of the busiest courthouses in the country, which has had to transfer cases to other courthouses.

Meanwhile, Milton’s crumbling and cramped courthouse — “challenged” is how Smith describes it — is struggling under a heavy caseload. A long-awaited new courthouse for one of the fastest-growing regions in the country is set to be located in nearby Oakville, possibly by 2023.

“I have been pressing the Ontario government to remedy these problems but very little progress has been made,” Smith said. “This translates into unacceptable delay and inconvenience to parties. It can impede the ability of judges to perform their constitutional function of hearing and deciding cases. It can prolong uncertainty for families in crisis and puts the well-being of our most vulnerable members of society at risk.”

Court delays and the reasons for them came under heightened scrutiny after the Supreme Court of Canada released its 2016 decision in R v. Jordan, which set strict timelines to bring criminal cases to trial.

Canadians devastated by loss of loved ones in Ethiopian Airlines crash seek justice in the courts

Canadians devastated by loss of loved ones in Ethiopian Airlines crash seek justice in the courts The families of Canadian victims of the Ethiopian Airlines crash are suing Boeing, alleging the plane manufacturer was negligent and put profits ahead of safety when it rushed the troubled 737 Max 8 plane to market.

The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest ranking judicial body in the United States. Its membership, as set by the Judiciary Act of 1869, consists of the Chief Justice of the United States and eight associate justices , any six of whom would constitute a quorum.

Under the Courts of Justice Act, if the Chief Justice is absent from Ontario or for any reason is unable to act, the Associate Chief Justice performs and exercises his or her duties and Once appointed to the Superior Court , a judge can remain in office until the mandatory retirement age of 75.

Under the Jordan framework, the time limit is 30 months between an accused person’s arrest and the anticipated conclusion of their trial in Superior Court. If the limit is breached, the prosecution must be stayed for violating an accused person’s constitutional right to a trial within a reasonable time, unless the Crown can prove there were exceptional circumstances for the delay.

Smith described the Jordan ruling as “cataclysmic, but in a positive way,” saying she believes all players in the justice system worked to tackle what the Supreme Court described as a “culture of complacency” that was causing unconstitutional delays in criminal cases.

“There was a proactive response by the judiciary, recognizing that public confidence, once lost, would be extraordinarily difficult to restore.”

There have, however, been prosecutions that were stayed due to delays, a situation Smith described as “very regrettable.”

One notable case was that of five men charged in a $13-million fraud case. Their prosecution was stayed last July because there was no judge available to hear the 12-week trial in Toronto until January.

Ensuring that all judicial vacancies are filled as soon as possible is the final challenge facing the court, Smith told the Star. For several years she implored the federal justice minister to do just that in her annual speech at the opening of the courts ceremony in Toronto, saying those vacancies were leading to unacceptable delays.

There were times when more than 10 per cent of all judicial positions were vacant, some for months or even years.

“The court simply cannot hear and decide cases in a timely manner when its judicial complement is not at full strength,” Smith said. There are 10 vacancies in Superior Court, which currently consists of 351 full- and part-time judges, according to the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs.

White House official: New sales to China's Huawei to cover only widely available goods

White House official: New sales to China's Huawei to cover only widely available goods White House official: New sales to China's Huawei to cover only widely available goods

The office of chief justice is not explicitly established in the U. S . Constitution. While Article I, Section 3, Clause 6 of the In day-to-day proceedings, the chief justice enters the courtroom first and casts the first vote when the justices deliberate, and also presides over closed-door conferences of the court

The appointment process was revamped in 2016 by then-justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to improve diversity on the bench, and Smith said that’s resulted in a number of highly qualified and diverse new judges. But she said Ontario’s judicial advisory committees — the independent bodies that screen judicial applicants for the minister’s consideration — need to be operating all the time to vet candidates, and there must be enough of the committees to handle the volume of applications.

“Finally, the federal government must commit to not leaving a judicial vacancy unfilled for any length of time, and the federal cabinet must keep as a standing item on each agenda for the filling of all judicial vacancies,” she said.

(In a statement to the Star, federal Justice Minister David Lametti said that the government continues to work closely with courts to understand their needs, and thanked Smith for her service.)

While the federal justice minister is responsible for the appointments of Superior Court judges, the task of appointing the chief justice falls to the prime minister. Justin Trudeau is expected to appoint Smith’s successor before the October election, although his office declined to comment when asked by the Star.

And when Smith retires at the end of this month, she said she will look back on her time on the court as “the great honour and privilege” of her life.

“I get immense satisfaction from getting a job done. This is particularly true for a job that I have absolutely loved,” she said.

“However, my father always said the essence of stewardship is twofold: look after your people, and leave the institution better than you found it.

“I hope I have done both.”

Questions for Superior Court Chief Justice Heather Smith

What advice would you give to your successor?

I would echo the advice that was given to me by (former) chief justice Patrick LeSage. He attended every swearing-in ceremony himself and learned about the new judge’s background, family and colleagues. Chief justice LeSage urged me to do the same. I was surprised by this, but I came to know that, as with all things, in this he was right. I have carried this idea with me in my role as chief justice. I meet with every newly appointed judge personally. I always let them know that I am there to support them and assist them in any way I can. Attending a swearing-in ceremony is a perfect opportunity to get a little “vignette” into who the judge is.

What are your thoughts on cameras in the courtroom?

There is a place for cameras in the courtroom — such as has been done recently in a case of high public interest at the Court of Appeal for Ontario and they may well be appropriate for courts such as the Superior Court’s Divisional Court (which hears appeals from administrative tribunals and regulatory bodies.) However, I do not think cameras in the courtroom are appropriate in trial courts where witnesses are testifying about often intensely personal or highly emotional matters such as those which occur in criminal and family law trials, or where juries are engaged. Having cameras in the courtroom could affect the way a witness testifies.

The court probably faces its harshest criticism from the public when it comes to sentencing, particularly in tragic, high-profile cases. There is the criticism that the judge was “too lenient,” or that certain groups, such as racialized individuals or members of the LGBTQ community, will not get a fair shake in court. How would you respond to that criticism?

Judges often are required to make difficult decisions. That is part of the job and our judges understand and accept as part of the job that when they make a particularly difficult decision, one party may well be disappointed with the result. What we must always do in these situations is to try to explain in understandable terms the reasons for the decision so that those reading it can be clearly informed about the basis for the decision. Clear, comprehensive reasons are not just for the parties, but also for the people who are a part of the process, are a member of an affected community, the public and others.

However, I do become concerned if media commentary moves into broad generalizations that call into question whether certain groups, or communities, are treated fairly by the court. This sort of commentary, if made without foundation, can unfairly erode public confidence in the institution of the court.

What would you say are the challenges specifically facing Indigenous peoples in the justice system and what can be done about those challenges?

The former chief justice of Canada, Beverley McLachlin, has called the treatment of First Nations “the most glaring blemish on the Canadian historic record.” It is imperative that we acknowledge the dark chapters of our history if we are to restore and heal our relationships.

The number of Indigenous children and youth in care is a painful reality and tremendous challenge within the justice system that we simply cannot ignore. In recent years, the Superior Court has dedicated portions or all of some of its biannual education conferences for judges on Indigenous issues, with programming covering criminal, civil and family. The family court’s child protection education sessions have focused on experiences of Indigenous children in the child welfare system. We know that judicial education is key to incorporating reconciliation into our work as judges.

These responses have been edited for length.

Jacques Gallant is a Toronto-based reporter covering legal affairs. Follow him on Twitter: @JacquesGallant

White House official: New sales to China's Huawei to cover only widely available goods.
White House official: New sales to China's Huawei to cover only widely available goods

—   Share news in the SOC. Networks

Topical videos:

usr: 49
This is interesting!