Focus On

Manitoba Appeal Court embracing remote technology amid pandemic

Friday, April 03, 2020 @ 4:08 PM | By Terry Davidson

Manitoba’s Appeal Court is turning to remote conferencing to get itself up and running again during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On April 3, the court announced that, starting April 20, all appeals will be heard via videoconference and that all motions and applications will be dealt with through teleconferencing.

For in-custody appeal, motion and application hearings, “special procedures are required in order to ensure that the accused can participate in the hearing.”

In this case, notes the announcement, measures will be put in place to maximize social distancing.

“Unless the accused’s presence is waived, counsel for the accused will be required to attend Courtroom 330 in person with their webcam-equipped laptop,” states the notice. “An internet feed has been set up in Courtroom 330 that allows counsel for the accused to access the videoconference. A sheriff will bring the accused into Courtroom 330. The only other persons that will be allowed in the courtroom, other than the accused, counsel for the accused, the sheriff and the court clerk, will be members of the press who will be in the gallery. Social distancing measures are compulsory.”

In mid-March, the Appeal Court had issued a notice that all appeal and chamber matters would be suspended from March 20 to April 17, save for in-custody matters, which would be considered urgent and heard either through teleconference or paper-based hearings.

This latest notice states the suspended matters will be rescheduled “to the next available time slot.”