I’m going to be talking to you today about how they’ve re-opened the criminal court system in the province. So what happened is on July 6th in terms of the Ontario Court of Justice and the Superior Court of Justice, for the Ontario Court of Justice they renovated 93 different courtrooms and that’s a small subset of the number of all the courtrooms in all the various counties and they didn’t renovate every county so not every county is operating. So what’s happening right now is they’ve resumed trials. Trials were paused completely for the summer, actually since March so no trials were going on. So now for example if you take London and Kitchener and Windsor they’ve got 2 trial courtrooms going in each of those Ontario Court of Justice courthouses. Which again is a small subset so there’s going to be potential delay.

Now how would they re-open those courtrooms and are we safe? It really appears that they are doing everything they can, the government. There’s no question they’ve done a yeoman’s work to get these reopen. Renovations, they are putting in physical barriers like plexiglas. They are having enhanced cleaning of the courthouses. They have cleaning stations and physical distancing within each courtroom and of course members of the public, everyone has to wear a mask. So the only time you’re not wearing a mask would be for example the lawyers, and you’re behind barriers. So it’s very safe in my view. They have been doing it carefully. They are going to continue to roll out the renovations in the Ontario Court of Justice slowly and hopefully completely open up our court systems safely. So these are in person trials that going on. We still have a limited number of people in the courthouse thankfully and we’re obviously trying to avoid a breakout in the Covid pandemic in every courthouse.

Similarly with the Superior Court of Justice, our higher court where more serious criminal trials only take place there. I shouldn’t say only because serious trials take place in the Ontario Court of Justice but the Superior Court of Justice deals with for example, first degree murder trials, serious rape cases and that sort of thing. So 53 courtrooms have been renovated in various Superior Courts of Justice counties across the province. Again a limited number of courtrooms, a limited number of trials can go on and the Superior Court also services family and civil matters so it’s not a lot of courtrooms going on in that particular court.

So that’s what the Ministry of the Attorney General and the government’s done. I think they are doing a very good job. They really are to be commended and most of my colleagues in the criminal bar in the various counties we operate in have been pretty pleased with the way things are going. Of course, you know some people don’t want to go to court. They might be susceptible for health reasons so they can’t take any risk but for the average person it seems they feel relatively safe and our experience to date with us resuming trials has been pretty positive in terms of the way I feel about being safe and other lawyers at our firm. So really hats off to the government. They really have done a good job and hopefully they can keep it up as we continue to roll out both the economy and our courts in a safe way.

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