The COVID 19 pandemic brought a lot of changes to our court system. And one of the changes that a person could opt for a virtual trial that is by zoom with all the witnesses appearing on camera and zoom in front of your computer versus a in person trial.Now there are periods during COVID where only virtual trials were available but slowly as COVID resolved a little bit, at least the court system opened up and then the interesting thing was the courts maintained the option. So right now, as of April Fool’s of 2022, that’s April one today, you have the option to do a virtual trial by zoom or in person trial. As long as the crown the defence counsel and the client agree to it. That’s what’s going on right now.

So it’s an interesting because our firm has done a lot of virtual trials. We’ve found them quite effective. We’ve done a lot for impaired driving, domestic assault, etc. One of our big areas that we focus on as well is sexual assault. Now, that’s a bigger you’re facing a lot of years in jail when you’re convicted of a sexual assault, so we’ve been a little bit more resistant with respect to sexual assault, virtual trials, we haven’t done one yet. Clients are tending not to want to want to do them on that or agree to it they want in person trials; I completely understand that. But the interesting thing about this, I’ve spoken to colleagues of mine very senior capable lawyers across the province who’ve done very serious trials by virtual reality by Zoom, and they have found no difference they found it quite effective. And everything went well and then they secured great results with that. They found that the judge could see the person on their computer very well so they could see their sweating or red faced or how their reacting to the evidence. So it went really well. And it was interesting to see that now, I think we’ll you know, over the course of next couple of years, we’ll probably see some good statistics whether conviction rates went up or down, virtual versus in person, but as of now our office has opted not to do them for sexual assault matters as of yet. We haven’t had a client who would agree to that in which we sit a little bit resistant. We didn’t want to be the guinea pig so to speak on a huge case where clients facing multiple years in jail and having a Zoom trial. We have done that for many domestic assaults, many impaired driving matters as well. They blend very well. I frankly have found no difference. The lawyers in my office report the same to me. Maybe one day we’ll be convinced to do a sexual assault by virtual trial. I guess I’m just a little bit resistant to that. Not hugely, but the resistance is I kind of would like to see the conviction statistics. You know, a study done on it before I make a final decision, but my gut instinct is it doesn’t make any difference.

And there’s some lawyers who will disagree with me but most of the colleagues I’ve ever spoken to with, with some rare exceptions right across the province, other lawyers are agreeing with me that there seems to be no difference. That’s our new reality. No pun intended going forward in the province. I expect that going forward. You’ll be allowed to do zoom or in person for any type of case. Now the only case perhaps, you know, it’d be very difficult to do a jury with 12 jury members by seeing that’s a whole course of a different color. And there may be other types of trials where say it’s a very paper intense documentary type case where it might be a little bit awkward, but by and large, I recently see no difference and maybe we’ll talk ourselves into doing sexual assault trial by zoom by virtual reality at some point in the future. We’ll see, not today though.

By Published On: July 20, 2023Last Updated: June 19, 2024Categories: Sexual Assault, Video

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