COVID-19 and the courts: Aug. 10 update

Today’s update for courthouses across Canada

COVID-19 and the courts: Aug. 10 update

Courts across Canada are taking extraordinary measures to control the spread of the new coronavirus COVID-19. Below is a roundup of actions courts are taking across the country.

British Columbia

Court of Appeal for British Columbia

Updated Notice to the Public - Service and filing deadlines further suspended from 5 August to 19 August 2020
The suspension of service and filing deadlines for existing appeals and chambers applications, which began on Mar. 18, has been extended to Aug. 19. The notice also announced an update regarding the court’s modified filing directions for civil and criminal appeals.


Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta

Resumption of criminal jury selections and criminal jury trials - September 8, 2020
The court is recommencing criminal jury selections and criminal jury trials on Sept. 8. The court expects to move forward with all criminal jury trials scheduled for the Fall 2020 term. Jury selections and jury trials will mostly occur offsite in 12 locations across the province to ensure the safety of all court users, given that most of the courtrooms and jury deliberation rooms are not designed for all the involved parties to be able to observe adequate physical distancing. The jury summons will mention the location for these proceedings.


Provincial Court of Manitoba

Notice - COVID-19 - Pre-Trial Coordinator Dockets
Effective Aug. 10, for matters appearing on the 1 p.m. 301/302 dockets in which counsel are required to attend in person, counsel should appear at the court counter at 408 York Avenue sometime between 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Self-represented persons should appear at the cafeteria at the 405 Broadway Wordsworth Building. The court urges counsel to reach out to the Crown’s office to arrange adjournments to avoid the need for in-person appearances and to advise their clients to refrain from appearing unless necessary.


Ontario Court of Justice

Notice to the Profession and the Public re: Resumption of Criminal Trials and Preliminary Hearings in the Ontario Court of Justice at College Park, Kenora, Timmins, Peterborough and Burlington
Trials and preliminary hearings for the abovementioned locations will resume on Aug. 17, with the exception of Burlington, where they will resume on Aug. 24. Each courthouse will be implementing certain health and safety measures, such as screening for COVID-19. Screening online may be completed in advance of the visit.

Notice to the Profession and the Public: Virtual Criminal Case Management Appearances in Kitchener and Ottawa Beginning August 10, 2020
Effective Aug. 10, out-of-custody accused individuals and their counsel can attend criminal case management appearances in Kitchener and Ottawa by videoconference or audio-conference via Zoom. This is pursuant to a virtual criminal case management court pilot in these select locations. The court anticipates expanding the implementation of virtual criminal case management courts in other locations later in August.

Practice Direction Authorizing Alternate Form of Appearance where an Enhanced Designation of Counsel has been Filed
The court urges accused individuals to file designations of counsel, including enhanced designations of counsel, so that it can limit the number of people required to make in-person appearances at the courthouses. Once an enhanced designation of counsel has been properly filed, the accused person may have their matter adjourned without needing to personally appear, in accordance with the procedure described in the practice direction and in accordance with Rule 4.5 of the Criminal Rules of the Ontario Court of Justice. The practice direction lists the required contents of an enhanced designation of counsel and describes the concept of a limited retainer designation of counsel.

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