Jury trials in Ontario suspended until 7th June 2021

by Five Fantastic Lawyers™ on May 17, 2021

In response to the rising COVID-19 cases, a declaration of Emergency was made on January 12, 2021, for all of Ontario. With the declaration of Emergency came new provincial restrictions on January 14, 2021. In light of these restrictions, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice had suspended jury trials until May 3, 2021, at the earliest, but has now extended these further. Per the update from Chief Justice Morawetz on January 13, 2021, no new jury trials or jury selections will proceed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice until May 3, 2021, at the earliest. Matters that are already in progress may continue at the trial judge’s discretion.

And as at March 2021, the following announcement was made:-

“Accordingly, the previously announced suspension of jury selection and jury trials until May 3, 2021 is extended until June 7, 2021 in the Central West, Central East, Central South and East regions. In the Toronto, Northwest, Northeast and Southwest regions, the suspension is extended until July 5, 2021.”

On April 20, 2020, over a month after the first declaration of Emergency was made for Ontario, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice clarified that any in-person hearings would be suspended until at least July 6, 2020, and new civil jury selections would be suspended until September 2020 at the earliest. As the case numbers abated over the summer, Courts began to assemble new juries in September of 2020. In October 2020, jury trials were again suspended in certain regions due to rising case numbers. The January 13, 2021 update extends and broadens the December 14, 2020 update, which extended the jury trial suspensions in all areas except “Green Zones” to February 1, 2020.  The suspension now applies to all trials at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

Chief Justice Morawetz notes that non-jury matters should proceed virtually unless it is “absolutely necessary” to hold the proceedings in-person, and all other avenues should be explored and implemented “to the greatest extent possible.”

It is too early to speculate whether we can expect jury selections will recommence in the next month, or if the suspension will be extended once again. In the meantime, Ontarians will hopefully get a better sense of when jury trials can proceed safely.

If new jury selections recommence soon, they may only be allowed in select courthouses, such as those in select “Zones.” Safety protocols, such as masks and glass barriers, will likely continue to be in effect even when such matters can proceed.

The continued suspension of jury trials, albeit necessary, will likely result in an increased backlog of civil trials. Even prior to the pandemic, civil trials were being booked two to three years in advance due to Court resources being diverted to criminal matters, following the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in R v. Jordan 2016 SCC 27. Unfortunately, with the latest directive, litigants in civil matters should anticipate the backlog to increase.

At Bogoroch & Associates LLP, we understand that justice delayed is justice denied. We strive to achieve excellent results expeditiously. Upon being retained, we will provide you both a tailored timeline of when we expect your matter to be resolved and a roadmap on how we intend to do so.

We are experienced in all aspects of personal injury and medical malpractice litigation. We have the confidence and skill to advance your motor vehicle accident or medical malpractice claim to settlement or trial while helping you navigate the complex medical, legal, and insurance issues. If you have been injured in a car accident or a slip and fall, or if you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice or wrongfully denied disability benefits, contact our personal injury lawyers today. Consultations are free and we would be honored to help you.

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