It’s great that you could join me today. I want to give a bit of an update to a series of videos I did. I did a podcast and a whole bunch of videos on how COVID affected the Ontario criminal court system.

You know, it’s very interesting this issue because I think the ministry, the Attorney General did a fantastic job of navigating us through COVID with the court system, there was a whole bunch of technological changes in the courtroom , a whole bunch of virtual trials went on and it was just remarkable how well they did I know the courts were shut down for a while and obviously some delays happen, which we’re still dealing with, which I’m talking about, but it was just remarkable. Right now, where are we right now? Oh, geez. We’re COVID What january february, march 2020. And now we are in approaching 2023 in November here. So where are we now? Well, everything’s worked out very well, frankly.

One of the lingering effects because the courts were paused for several months here and there during COVID. There’s still some lingering delay working through the system. But I think the ministry has done a remarkable job, Judges, Crowns, defense lawyers have done a remarkable job to move into cases. So we do have some delay problem, which is lingering and they’re working hard in that to move cases efficiently. And maybe some cases maybe thrown out for delay, but I think they’ve done a great job is that problem didn’t emerge as much as  we all thought which is great thing. The last thing, frankly, we should want in a criminal justice system of serious cases thrown out because of section 11 B delay under the charter where a murder case for example, stayed or thrown out because of delay and thankfully they’re prioritizing that. So that’s a great thing. So what are the other lingering effects? Well, we’re now back to in person trials, which I’d appreciate, ‘d much prefer doing in person trials.

So all counties across all cities, all counties, courthouses across the province now it’s all in person trials, whether it’s in the Ontario Court Justice, whether it’s jury trials, whether it is Superior Court Justice, it’s all in person. So what other, well let me think I know the one thing that’s still being done virtually, which I think is a good thing for minor criminal matters where the person is not facing a jail term. Let’s say a first time impaired driving. First time mischief, theft, domestic assault. Let’s say the person is getting a fine or licensed probation or domestic assault or getting a conditional discharge or fine, no jail, you work this out with the crown. Many, many of the counties across Ontario and particularly in the southern Ontario, right from Ottawa right through to well Windsor is an exception right  from Ottawa right through to London, I should say. They are allowing virtual guilty pleas still on noncustodial matters.

So a person who’s charged with a DUI who’s pleading guilty, their lawyer could be at their home or office and plead guilty. I think that’s a great thing. I mean, why are you making a person traveled 300 miles, for example, to do a guilty plea if they live in a town where they’re not facing jail. It’s very efficient. That’s worked out great.

I can tell you a little bit to my chagrin, Windsor is moved away. One of the counties that we work in as Essex County and Windsor has moved away from you know, they they’re demanding in person pleas Now. I’m not sure why. I suspect reasons why which I won’t say and I think Chatham’s insisting on we’ve done some cases and we do a lot of cases in Chatham, they’re insisting on in person please right now. But London, Woodstock, all these counties. We work in Kitchener, the Toronto GTA network right up north to Barrie and right in Norther Ontario they’re allowing virtual pleas still. That may change. I hope it doesn’t. I think it’s a very efficient system. If not, someone’s not facing a jail term, why do we want 50,000 people sitting in the courtroom? When we can do it virtually. Save in person for criminal trials and save it for people who have to go to jail because that if the person is going to jail, they have to be carted right to jail that day. So I guess the bottom line I just wanted to thank the judiciary, Defense Council, crowns across the province they did a great job in navigating COVID And we we have very few lingering effects right now. In fact, I would say the only lingering effect is a bit of a minor delay problem which the ministry is working very hard still to resolve that and the resolving cases to try and clear up and clog up a little bit of remaining delay problem in the province. I will say I won’t get into the city breakdown but some cities have a bit of a worse problem than others, some of the larger centers, but they did before COVID So it’ll all work out and ministries, they used resources that needed to and everyone in the system is really to be commended for the great job they’ve done to navigate COVID.

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