This week's roundup for courthouses across Canada
The court added an exception to federal Contraventions Act offences assigned to judicial justices, with the exception being designated COVID-related offences under the Quarantine Act that carry a fine of at least $3,450 and are assigned to be heard by Provincial Court judges.
The Provincial Court, as well as the Supreme Court, required face masks to be worn inside the Kelowna Law Courts and courtrooms, unless directed otherwise by the presiding judicial officer.
The court announced that the pilot project authorizing out-of-court adjournments for enhanced designations of counsel will be implemented in Toronto East (1911 Eglinton Avenue East) on Aug. 9 and in Oshawa on Aug. 16.
Effective on July 30, the court has eased its restrictions on operations, considering that the declared state of emergency in the province has been lifted. The notice to justice participants, to the media and to the public provides information on criminal matters, matters involving in-custody accused individuals, regulatory offenses, provincial tickets and by-laws.
The directive, which applies to both civil and criminal appeals, provides an update of the court’s operations following the lifting of the provincial state of emergency at midnight on July 30. Restrictions on entry into the Justice Building in Fredericton have also been removed for those in Canada who do not otherwise need to self-isolate under international travel-related federal guidelines. Everyone entering and circulating in the courtrooms should wear an adequate mask, although the presiding judge can choose to allow some or all of the persons present to remove their masks, on the basis of the number of court attendees or other relevant considerations. Those self-isolating, showing COVID-19 symptoms or awaiting COVID-19 screening test results should not enter the courtroom and should instead attend proceedings via video or telephone conference. The directive also gives information on document filing and service, affidavits, hearings of motions and appeals and media access.
The chief medical officer of health and government officials continue to recommend the use of masks, despite the lifting of the requirement to wear masks in indoor public spaces and of some other COVID-19-related restrictions on Aug. 4. The court thus requires those visiting the following courthouse areas to wear masks: the space outside Courtroom 5; the stairs and elevator leading to the second and fourth floors on the building’s court side; the space on the second floor outside Courtrooms 1, 2, 3 and 4; the Supreme Court and Territorial Court boardrooms, subject to the presiding judge’s directions; all courtrooms, depending on the presiding judge’s instructions; and the Court Registry’s public side. Other health and safety protocols are in place, including physical distancing, hand sanitizers and wipes and plexiglass barriers.
The update, effective on Aug. 3, says that members of the general public can attend the court’s proceedings in Yellowknife and matters before justices of the peace, subject to the maximum number of people allowed according to the fire marshal’s office. Attendees should bring and wear a mask, use hand sanitizer and observe physical distancing where possible.