June 2020 Update to Ontario Courts’ Response to COVID-19

In response to the uncertainty of the pandemic, Ontario criminal courts will continue to operate on a reduced schedule. Matters will be automatically postponed unless the Court or your lawyer tells you otherwise. For the occasional matters that do proceed during the pandemic, hearings will be held by audioconference or videoconference (unless the Court or your lawyer tells you otherwise).

As discussed below, criminal cases can proceed in two different levels of court: the Ontario Court of Justice (the lower court – also known as “OCJ”) and the Superior Court of Justice (the higher court – also known as the “SCJ”). This article provides an update as to how criminal cases are proceeding in both levels of court.

Ontario Court of Justice (OCJ)

In the OCJ, all criminal court appearances between now and July 3, 2020, will be postponed (unless you are in custody). If you have any matter scheduled before July 3, 2020, it will be rescheduled (in your absence) to a date exactly 10 weeks in the future (with some exceptions below). On the rescheduled date, the Court will determine when your trial/plea/next appearance will take place.

This will be the case for all non-essential appearances (e.g., a remand, a guilty plea, a trial) unless your lawyer or the Court tells you otherwise OR if your appearance is at one of the courthouses below. If your matter is in a courthouse at one of the following locations, consult the OCJ webpage at https://www.ontariocourts.ca/ocj/covid-19/criminal-list-adjournment/ to see when your next court date will be:

Armstrong, Atikokan, Attawapiskat, Barrie, Bearskin Lake, Big Trout Lake, Blind River, Bracebridge, Bradford, Capleau, Cochrane, Collingwood, Deer Lake, Elliot Lake, Espanola, Exeter, Fort Albany, Fort Hope, Fort Severn, Geraldton, Gogama, Gore Bay, Huntsville, Hearst, Homepayne, Ignace, Kapuskasing, Kashechewan, Kasabonika, Killaloe, Lansdowne House, Lac Seul, Leamington, Lindsay, Longlac, Manitouwadge, Marathon, Mattawa, Midland, Mishkeegogamang, Moosonee, Muskrat Dam, Nipigon, Northumberland, North Spirit Lake, Ogoki Post, Orillia, Parry Sound, Pickle Lake, Pikangikum, Poplar Hill, Rainy River, Red Lake, Renfrew, Sachigo Lake, Sandy Lake, Smooth Rock Falls, Summer Beaver, Sudbury, Sundridge, Sturgeon Falls, Toronto’s Old City Hall’s L-Court (Child Abuse / Domestic Early Resolution) Walpole Island First Nation, Wapekeka, Wawa, Weagamow, Webequie, Wikwemikong, Wunnumin Lake

For example, if your case is not proceeding in any of the above courthouses, it will be rescheduled as follows (unless your lawyer or the Court has told you otherwise):

Scheduled for…

Monday May 25

Tuesday May 26

Wednesday May 27

Thursday May 28

Friday May 29

Monday June 1

Tuesday June 2

Wednesday June 3

Thursday June 4

Friday June 5

Monday June 8

Tuesday June 9

Wednesday June 10

Thursday June 11

Friday June 12

Monday June 15

Tuesday June 16

Wednesday June 17

Thursday June 18

Tuesday June 23

Wednesday June 24

Thursday June 25

Friday June 26

Monday June 29

Tuesday June 30

Monday June 22

Thursday July 2

Friday July 3

Your matter is rescheduled to

Monday August 10*

Tuesday August 4

Wednesday August 5

Thursday August 6

Friday August 7

Monday August 10

Tuesday August 11

Wednesday August 12

Thursday August 13

Friday August 14

Monday August 17

Tuesday August 18

Wednesday August 19

Thursday August 20

Friday August 21

Monday August 24

Tuesday August 25

Wednesday August 26

Thursday August 27

Tuesday September 1

Wednesday September 2

Thursday September 3

Friday September 4

Monday September 14*

Tuesday September 8

Wednesday September 9

Thursday September 10

Friday September 11

* asterisk have a special adjournment date due to a statutory holiday

The only criminal matters the Court will hear before these predetermined dates will be bail hearings, scheduling and guilty pleas for people in custody (jail/prison), and some urgent guilty pleas for people out of custody. Out-of-custody guilty pleas will only take place where the Court is satisfied that sufficient resources are in place. All of these hearings will take place over teleconference/video conference.

No trials or preliminary inquiries will be taking place until July 6th at the earliest (unless the Court directs otherwise). For now, persons with trials and preliminary inquiries scheduled after July 6, 2020, should assume that those matters will proceed as scheduled.

If you would like an issue with your case discussed, a “judicial pre-trial” (a conference with the Crown and the judge) can be arranged via teleconference.

Ontario Superior Court of Justice (SCJ)

If you have any type of appearance in the Superior Court between March 16 and July 6, 2020, your matter will be rescheduled to a date on the week of July 6, 2020, (unless the Court or your lawyer tells you otherwise). On that rescheduled date, the Court will speak to your matter only to fix a new date for it to proceed.

No jury trials will proceed until September 2020 at the earliest. Between now and then, the Court can discuss your matter at a “judicial pre-trial” (a conference with the Crown and the judge) if you have a lawyer to attend by audio teleconference.

Bail reviews can still be done remotely. These are hearings for in-custody accused to determine whether they are suitable for bail. Bail reviews where the defence and the Crown agree can be done without a hearing. Where the parties do not agree, hearings will be done by teleconference or videoconference.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call David or Matthew at David Anber’s law office for more information.

David Anber

David Anber

David Anber has been a trailblazing legal practitioner since 2006. His early entry into law practice during his studies marked the beginning of a distinguished career. As a member of both Ontario and Quebec’s bar associations, David excels in defending traffic and criminal cases across both provinces. David contributes to legal discourse through articles for the Defence Counsel Association of Ottawa and the Criminal Lawyer’s Association of Ontario.