COVID-19 and the courts: January 10, 2022 update

This week's roundup for courthouses across Canada

COVID-19 and the courts: January 10, 2022 update

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

British Columbia

Court of Appeal for British Columbia

Update: Court of Appeal hearings to proceed remotely

Effective January 4, the court will hear all chambers and appeal proceedings remotely, unless otherwise directed, and contacted parties with hearings scheduled to take place the week of January 4. The court will broadcast remote appeal hearings will be broadcast over Zoom via the link provided in the Court’s Weekly Hearing List.

Alberta

Provincial Court of Alberta

COVID-19 Court measures update − January 4, 2022

For criminal trials, the court will adjourn all non-urgent out of custody trials,

preliminary inquiries and other hearings requiring viva voce evidence scheduled between January 4 and January 21. The court will also adjourn all in-person civil matters scheduled between January 4 and January 21.

The court will proceed with all family docket appearances, judicial dispute resolutions and pre-trial conferences remotely. But the traffic court will not be open for any in-person appearances.

Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta

COVID-19: Additional measures to limit traffic at court facilities − Effective Jan. 4, 2022

For the weeks of January 4, January 10, and January 17, the court will continue all trials, including jury trials at courthouses or external facilities, and any other in-person matters currently in progress until they are concluded.

The court will adjourn all in-person criminal trials and matters, including jury trials, civil, commercial, surrogate and family matters except for the following:

  • Scheduled in-custody accused criminal matters and sentencings;
  • Scheduled emergency protection order and restraining order viva voce hearings;
  • Scheduled matters involving unusual and urgent circumstances, on application to CJ Moreau (Northern Regional Centres), ACJ Rooke (Calgary/South) or ACJ Nielsen (Edmonton/Red Deer) or their designates, for reinstatement of the in-person trial or hearing.

The court will continue matters currently being heard remotely in all judicial centres.

Court of Appeal of Alberta

Notice to the profession and public COVID-19 – Electronic hearings extended to February 25, 2022

Unless otherwise directed, the court will continue to hear virtually all appeal sittings, applications before three‑judge panels, applications before a single judge, and bar admissions until February 25. The court will also continue to hear virtually all appeal conferences and judicial dispute resolution matters until further notice.

Manitoba

Provincial Court of Manitoba

Notice - Suspension and restriction of hearings (December 29, 2021)

Beginning January 4, the court will cancel the following proceedings for the month of January:

  • All out of custody trials, continuations, special sittings and preliminary hearings in all court centres and circuit locations, except for any continuation which is for submissions only;
  • Gun prohibition hearings;
  • Private prosecution hearings;
  • All in-custody trials, continuations, special sittings and preliminary hearings at fly-in circuit locations;
  • All child protection, family maintenance act and private guardianship trials;

The court will hear protection order by telephone and remain available to hear applications with respect to urgent matters.

Court of Queen’s Bench of Manitoba

Re: Adjustments to current scheduling protocols – January 10 to March 4, 2022, for the Court of Queen’s Bench general and family divisions

Starting January 4, the court will reschedule criminal proceedings, particularly jury and judge out-of-custody trials, scheduled between January 10 and March 4. But in-custody trials will proceed as scheduled. The court will also proceed with all other judicial services by video or audio conference.

The court will not proceed in person with previously scheduled civil trials. If and where all parties are

represented by counsel, all civil trials already scheduled are to be viewed as presumptively proceeding by video conference. The court will not also proceed with previously scheduled family and child protection trials.

Court of Appeal of Manitoba

Re: All hearings at the Court of Appeal will be conducted remotely until further notice

Effective January 4, the court will hear all appeals and motions remotely through videoconference. The court will require special procedures for all in-custody criminal appeals, motions, or application hearings to ensure that accused can participate in the hearing.

Ontario

Court of Appeal for Ontario

Return to remote appeal hearings and closure of public counter

Effective December 20, 2021, the court will proceed remotely with all appeal hearings using the Zoom platform, unless otherwise directed.  Also, public counter services will not be available. The court prohibits all members of the public from making non-essential visits to the courthouse.

Return to previous standard wording of surrender condition in release orders for appellants on bail pending appeal

Effective immediately, the court will return to using the standard wording of the surrender condition in release orders that was used previously in the pandemic. This wording requires appellants on bail to surrender by 7:00 a.m. the morning the judgment is to be released, or by 7:00 a.m. on the “sunset date” (i.e., the expiry date of the release order), whichever is earlier.

New Brunswick

Provincial Court of New Brunswick

Updated COVID-19 directive – December 10, 2021

The court will proceed with all criminal matters as scheduled and accused shall appear in person before the court.

Unless instructed otherwise by the presiding judge, the court will require an accused in custody to appear by videoconference for a first appearance, election, plea, appearance to set a trial date and request for adjournment. The court will also require an accused in custody to appear by videoconference for show cause hearings. If the technological means are not satisfactory to the judge, an accused in custody may be required to appear in person.

For all other matters, the court will require individuals scheduled for trial to appear in person on their scheduled trial dates.

Court of Queen’s Bench of New Brunswick

Suspension of jury trials at the Court of Queen’s Bench for the period January 4th – February 14th, 2022

The court will suspend all jury trials currently scheduled between January 4 and February 14.

The jury trials that were scheduled to take place during this time frame will be rescheduled as soon as possible.

Nova Scotia

Provincial Court and Youth Justice Court

COVID-19: Provincial Court suspends in-person proceedings

From January 4 to January 14, the court will suspend most in-person proceedings and will be operating virtually via Microsoft Teams or telephone. Trials for individuals in custody will be heard in person, as operational requirements allow.

The directive also applies to Youth Justice Court, Night Court and Wellness Court programs. The court will reassess the situation prior to January 14 to determine whether it is safe to resume in-person proceedings.

Supreme Court of Nova Scotia

COVID-19: Jury trials suspended until Jan. 17, 2022

Effective immediately, the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia will suspend all jury trials in the province until Jan. 17. The directive applies to all jury trials that have not yet commenced, and any affected jury trials will be rescheduled at the earliest opportunity.

COVID-19: Supreme Court extends modified essential services model

The court will extend the modify essential services model in all locations until Jan. 14.

Under a modified essential services model, in-person proceedings are limited to those deemed urgent or essential by a judge.

The court can hear any non-urgent court matters virtually, including probate and bankruptcy matters, provided there is sufficient staff and equipment to do so. Any non-essential matters that cannot be dealt with virtually will be adjourned and rescheduled.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Provincial Court of Newfoundland and Labrador

Notice to the profession and public − Issued January 3, 2022 - COVID-19 court scheduling

The court will reschedule all adult and youth criminal appearances, trials, hearings,

and sentencings scheduled between January 4 and January 17. They will be rescheduled two weeks from the date of the scheduled court appearance or the next court date thereafter.

The court will adjourn indefinitely all civil matters set to proceed from January 4 to January 17.

Non-urgent family matters set to be heard between January 4 and January 17 will be adjourned for two weeks from the scheduled court date or the next court date thereafter. Emergency or mandatory matters will proceed virtually, including, but not limited to:

  • Child/adult protection;
  • Family emergency, such as risk of removal of a child from the province.

All non-urgent family matters scheduled to proceed from January 4 to January 17 will be adjourned without the parties having to attend the court.

Northwest Territories

Territorial Court of the Northwest Territories

The court will reschedule all criminal and youth justice matters scheduled to be heard from September 2021 to February 2022. These matters will be spoken to on the first scheduled circuit to the community in question after February 28, except for the first Inuvik circuit which will be the week of February 21.

For proceedings in Yellowknife, all civil and family-related appearances and other matters will be conducted by teleconference. All adult criminal and youth docket days before February 14 have been cancelled, and all matters listed on them will be adjourned to the Monday that falls exactly six weeks following the cancelled docket day.

Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories

COVID-19 response: Directives regarding Supreme Court proceedings

For criminal matters, regular criminal chambers will continue to proceed. The court will require counsel and accused not in custody to appear by telephone, and accused in custody by video conference. Sentencing hearings will presumptively proceed with counsel and accused appearing in person. The court will allow all pre-trial conferences with counsel to take place by teleconference, while pre-trial conferences with self-represented accused will take place in a courtroom, on the record, and in person.

For family and civil matters, regular chambers will proceed by teleconference. But special chambers hearings proceeding on affidavit evidence only will be heard by videoconference or telephone.

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