The Ontario Crown Attorneys Association is seeking an injunction to delay the province’s strategies to reopen 44 court houses beginning next week
TORONTO– Crown lawyers in Ontario want to postpone going back to courthouses over worries connected to COVID-19, the lawyers’ union says in court files.
The Ontario Crown Attorneys Association is looking for an injunction to delay the province’s strategies to reopen 44 courthouses starting next week.
The association alleges the province’s attorney general and the management board of cabinet that represents Crowns in labour relations have actually not taken every precaution to protect workers in courthouses during the pandemic.
” These preventative measures include the mandatory using of masks and other administrative steps to protect the workers and other individuals versus contracting the infection,” stated a notice of application submitted in the Superior Court of Justice on Friday.
The union said the attorney general of the United States is breaching the Crowns’ cumulative agreement by buying workers to go back to court on July 6, when it prepares to reopen 149 courtrooms throughout the province for in-person trials. The union wants the delay so the concern can be dealt with by an arbitrator.
The attorney general’s office stated the health and wellness of all court participants is its leading priority.
” To help maintain physical distancing, Plexiglas barriers are being set up in courtrooms, interview spaces, intake workplaces and at public counters,” stated spokesperson Jenessa Crognali.
” Everybody who visits a court house will be needed to wear a face covering and will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms.”
She stated there will be physical distancing markers and hand sanitizer dispensers in location, along with boosted cleaning and space capability restrictions, upon the resumption of court.
Crognali stated her workplace had yet to be served with the injunction application from the Crown’s association.
Michael Spratt, a defence lawyer in Ottawa, called the Crowns’ position “hypocritical.”
He said he has represented many clients at bail hearings during the pandemic where Crown lawyers have argued that jails are safe– and that COVID-19 must not be a factor to grant bail.
” To see Crown attorneys recommending that courtrooms aren’t safe for them to work, but jails are safe enough for prisoners, is hypocrisy at one of the most standard level,” Spratt stated.
” Possibly these Crowns would be content to hold trials and bail hearings behind bars in jails where they state it’s safe.”
On March 17, the Superior Court relocated to remote appearances while the lower provincial court did the same on March 27.
The ministry plans to resume court in a phased approach that starts with some in-person hearings next week, according to a notification on June 25 by Superior Court Chief Justice Geoffrey Morawetz.
” Trials and other hearings that are immediate or which were arranged to be heard during the suspension of the court’s regular operations will be given concern,” Morawetz composed.
Jury matters will continue to be delayed until at least September.
Morawetz composed that the court and the ministry are exploring the idea of off-site jury choice. The number of people inside courts will also be restricted, he wrote.
This report by The Canadian Press was very first published June 30, 2020.
Liam Casey, The Canadian Press