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Virtual criminal case management courts pilot launches Aug. 10 in Ontario

Thursday, July 30, 2020 @ 3:50 PM | By John Schofield

The Ontario Court of Justice (OCJ) is launching a pilot project Aug. 10 to test a virtual criminal case management courts system in Kitchener and Ottawa.

The pilot will allow counsel and accused persons who are out of custody to make criminal case-management appearances by videoconference via Zoom or audioconference via telephone, according to a July 28 OCJ notice to the profession. The court is planning to begin implementation of the system at other court locations later in August.

Although in-person proceedings have resumed at some courthouses, health and safety precautions have prevented in-person attendances for criminal court case management appearances, the notice explains.

“The court has been actively working,” it adds, “to adopt technology that will allow accused persons and/or counsel to attend criminal case management appearances using remote technology.”

Details regarding the pilot in Kitchener and Ottawa, including information about how counsel and accused persons may connect to the court by videoconference or audioconference, will be published the week of Aug. 4.

Before Aug. 10, the notice stipulates, criminal case management appearances in Ottawa and Kitchener will continue to be automatically adjourned, in the absence of the accused, as described in section 4.3(a) of the COVID-19: Notice to Counsel and the Public re: Criminal Matters in the Ontario Court of Justice.

At other locations, automatic adjournment of criminal court appearances for accused persons who are not in custody will be extended to Aug. 21.

Criminal case management appearances for accused persons who are in custody will continue to be conducted by remote appearances (audioconference or videoconference), in accordance with the procedures in place since March 2020.