Thursday, December 18, 2008

Key Ontario Players Onside to Speed Up Mega-Trials

According to the most recent issue of The Lawyers Weekly, there is broad agreement in Ontario on how to implement the recommendations of the recent Code-Lesage report on criminal trial reform in the province.

The article, entitled Key players buy-in to criminal reforms, quotes report co-author Michael Code:
"We have had remarkably good feedback — I think we’ve pushed the justice system to its tolerance points and everybody recognizes it’s time to think seriously to make it more efficient and effective ..."
Code,a University of Toronto professor, and former Ontario Superior Court Chief Justice Patrick LeSage were asked in early 2008 by the provincial Attorney General to propose ways to address delays and costs in large and complex criminal cases.

According to the article, the report, which was unveiled in late November, recommended:
"standardized disclosure to the defence; implementing vigorous case management by experienced judges to focus the issues of the case, especially at the pre-trial stage; reforming Legal Aid’s budget-setting practices, including paying senior barristers substantially more to handle complex cases, and rigorously overseeing less experienced counsel who are handling long, complex cases, and; advising, directing, and, when necessary, disciplining, individual Crown counsel and defence counsel who are uncivil in the courtroom, or who otherwise fail to properly conduct long, complex cases ..."
The report as well as background information on the issues can be found on the Ontario Attorney General website.

Earlier Library Boy posts on reforming the Ontario criminal justice system include:
  • Ontario Launches Review of Complex Criminal Cases (February 25, 2008): "Patrick LeSage, former chief justice of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario, and Michael Code, a University of Toronto law professor, have been assigned by the Ontario government to lead a review of large and complex criminal case procedures."
  • Government May Consider Radical Reforms To Fix Broken Criminal Trial System (April 8, 2008): "At a recent University of Ottawa conference, University of Toronto law professor Michael Code warned that 'unprofessional conduct' by defence and Crown attorneys in large criminal cases has governments contemplating far-reaching reforms to make the trial process more efficient (...) some of the changes being debated behind the scenes include: '(...) expanding the power of judges to vigorously manage the seemingly endless pretrial motions; restricting the timing, procedure and form of disclosure; expanding legal aid officials’ ability to oversee and restrain the legal aid budgets of long criminal trials, and restructuring the legal aid tariff to economically reward brevity and efficiency and deter inefficiency; and adding jury alternates to ensure that long, arduous trials don’t end in mistrials because jury members have dropped out'."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:54 pm


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