The minister of Justice Sonia Lebel has formalized the recovery of judicial services, in Quebec city, Thursday afternoon.
28 may 2020 13: 24
Updated at 17: 03
Déconfinement of the courts as from the 1st of June
All courthouses in Quebec will re-open more widely their doors as of Monday the 1st of June. The justice will take place at the formula hybrid, in both virtual and “real”.
After two and a half months of service reduced to a minimum due to the pandemic of sars coronavirus, the minister of Justice, Me Sonia Lebel announced Thursday, during the press briefing daily from the quebec government, a gradual recovery of judicial services, as for the common law courts as administrative courts.
The pace of this recovery, however, is dependent on two factors, wrote the Court of Québec in its press release: the collective obligation to obey the instructions of public health, which could vary depending on the epidemiological situation of a region and the impact of the pandemic on the availability of the staff of judicial services.
The employees of the palace of justice, largely in telework since mid-march, will come back gradually in their offices. It aims to reach about 60% of the workforce in August.
Now, the judges will deal only with emergencies. All records are likely to be called, but according to a priority order. The trial had already begun are likely to be the first to be resumed, but several other types of proceedings may be held, either in virtual or “real”, or with a mixture of the two.
The 136 hearing rooms, virtual video conferencing secure – created in fourth gear since the beginning of the pandemic is here to stay, says minister of Justice. “It is an acquisition that will help us catch up,” says Ms. Lebel.
In particular, due to the fact that the court records are not computerized, it is impossible to know with precision the number of cases, both civil and criminal, or family, that have had to be postponed because of the crisis of the COVID-19.
The Court of Québec, the court that handles the largest volume, we’re talking thousands of folders.
The minister of Justice ensures that multiple solutions will be put forward to restore the situation to normal. A lengthening of the hours of court is not excluded.
Measures of distancing physical
The judicial authorities have planned several ways to ensure that all adhere to the rules of social distancing. For example, in Québec, the defendants present in the courtroom at fort volume according to an alphabetical order: all the names from A to F at a particular time, those of G-to-L at a different time, etc
In several courthouses in Canada, people have taken the habit to wait outside of the building as a call enable notification that their case will be handled.
Since a few weeks, the palace of justice were built to ensure the safety of all, ” said minister Lebel. The furniture has been removed to enlarge the waiting areas in corridors and the walls in plexiglass have made their appearance in several places.
Transport of prisoners
Since the beginning of the crisis, all transport between the prison and the palace of justice have been suspended. The detained accused to attend the proceedings through video-conferencing, or in a parlor, either from their cell if they are in containment.
To save time and money, could we continue to use videoconferencing to avoid moving inmates during certain steps?
“We had a very quick reaction by the ministry of public Security to organize the visio in prison and one may think that there are a lot of things that will continue in videoconferencing”, evaluates Chantale Pelletier, associate chief justice responsible for the criminal chamber in the criminal Court.
A lot of things, but not everything. The criminal Code provides in effect that the testimony of the witnesses (at the preliminary inquiry or at trial) must be made in the presence of the accused. “It remains to be seen what that means “in the presence”, argued the judge Pelletier. The legislature may need to adapt.”
The transportation of detainees will, therefore, resume it, in a progressive manner.
The United Kingdom has made the choice to completely stop transport of the prisoners to the palace of justice, relying on video conferencing.