COVID-19 Updates

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May 5, 2020

Evidently, we are all experiencing an unprecedented time, which has affected our legal system, matters and proceedings.

At Kazandji Law Firm, we strive to provide our clients with solid and accurate legal advice and assistance. We understand the legal pressure you may be experiencing, and would like to share updates about the ongoing changes to court services and various legal matters, that have been affected by the pandemic.

If you have an urgent criminal and/or family matter, please do not hesitate to contact us. Contact Fadi Matthew Kazandji, (647)-588-3234.

As part of the collective efforts to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Ontario Court of Justice is limiting access to courthouses. As per the city of Toronto’s updates, all provincial offences Act matters (including traffic tickets and other offences under the provincial legislation) scheduled until May 29, 2020, will be rescheduled. Parties and witnesses do not need to attend court. Notice of a new court date will be sent to individuals by mail to the address on file with the court. All in person scheduled tribunals have been postponed. Additionally, ordering new court transcripts for Toronto Provincial Offences Act cases is not possible at the present time.

The Ontario Court of Justice will not be returning to full operations on May 29, 2020. No trials or preliminary inquiries will be conducted until July 6, 2020- at the earliest, unless a judge seized with a continuing matter orders otherwise. This applies to criminal, family and Provincial Offences Act matters.

As per the recommendations of health officials and the court, people should not attend Ontario Court of Justice courthouses unless they fall within one of the exceptions identified below:

Urgent criminal and family matters: As of March 28, 2020, all urgent criminal and urgent family proceedings will be conducted by telephone and/or video conferencing, unless otherwise ordered by a judicial official. Attendance in courtrooms for those matters will be restricted to the judicial official and essential court staff, unless a judicial official orders otherwise.

Urgent and/or essential criminal intake court: For urgent and or essential criminal intake court functions, attendance in courtrooms will be controlled.

Filing urgent court documents: Court documents for urgent matters can now be filed by email. If you are unable to submit an urgent filing in a criminal or family matter by email, please contact your local courthouse by email, or telephone or by attending at your local courthouse.  The addresses and phone numbers of all Ontario Court of Justice courthouses are posted on the Ministry of the Attorney General website.

All family trials, criminal trials and preliminary inquiries scheduled between Friday March 20, 2020 and Friday July 3, 2020 are suspended, subject to a judge seized with a continuing matter ordering otherwise. This applies to both in-custody and out-of-custody accused.
Judicial officials will remain available to preside over:
regularly scheduled bail courts, remand and plea courts for in-custody proceedings;
plea court for urgent out-of-custody matters;
urgent family proceedings;
applications under the Health Protection and Promotion Act; and
urgent and/or essential intake court functions.

For further details about the scheduling of proceedings in the Ontario Court of Justice, including Provincial Offences Act matters, please see the scheduling directives below.

Filing court documents in the Ontario Court of Justice
To further protect the health and safety of all court users and to help contain the spread of COVID-19, we ask members of the legal profession and members of the public NOT to attend courthouses in person at this time for purposes of filing court documents. Urgent court filings can be now submitted by email.

Scheduling Directives for Criminal, Family and Provincial Matters:

Criminal Matters:

As of March 28, 2020, all scheduled court appearances by counsel and accused persons, for urgent criminal matters and in-custody matters, will be by remote technology (videoconferencing or audioconferencing) rather than in person, unless a judicial official orders otherwise.

-In Custody Accused:
Trials and preliminary inquiries:  All criminal trials and preliminary inquiries between Friday March 20, 2020 and Friday July 3, 2020, including in-custody matters, are suspended, subject to a judge seized with a continuing matter ordering otherwise.  In-custody trials will be adjourned to a date determined by the presiding judicial officer.

Trial confirmation dates:  If a matter is scheduled for a second event or trial confirmation date in respect of an in-custody trial or preliminary inquiry that is scheduled to proceed on or after July 6, 2020, the trial date is deemed to have been confirmed.  If a matter is scheduled for a second event or trial confirmation date in respect of an in-custody trial or preliminary inquiry that is scheduled to proceed before July 6, 2020, that matter will be adjourned to a date determined by the presiding judicial officer.

Judicial pre-trials: Judicial pre-trials will continue to be available, but will be held by telephone only.  The Court encourages that judicial pre-trials be held in respect of all in-custody matters, particularly any matters scheduled for trial.

-Out of Custody Accused:
If you are not in custody and have a criminal court appearance in the Ontario Court of Justice between Friday March 16 and Friday May 29, do not attend court.  The court will adjourn your matter without you being present, using a court order called a “bench warrant with discretion”, which will require you to attend court on the new date.
An accused person who is not in custody who has a criminal matter scheduled for any type of appearance in the Ontario Court of Justice between Friday March 20, 2020 and Friday May 29, 2020, should not attend court.
Matters will be adjourned to another court date approximately 10 weeks from the date of the scheduled appearance:
For most courthouses, which have a regular weekday criminal case management court schedule, the next appearance will be on the corresponding day of the week 10 weeks from the date of your scheduled appearance, e.g. an appearance on Monday March 23 will be adjourned to Monday June 1; an appearance on Thursday April 23 will be adjourned to Thursday July 2.

In courthouses where case management court is not held on a consistent weekday schedule, the case will be adjourned approximately 10 weeks to a date identified by the Regional Senior Judge.

To find out what date a matter is being adjourned to, see list of adjournment dates. These dates are subject to change further due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please check back on this website before your next court date, in case that date changes.

To preserve jurisdiction a bench warrant with discretion will be issued under the Criminal Code, returnable on the adjournment date.This procedure applies to Criminal Code peace bond hearings, pre-enquêtes and weapons hearings.

Trials and Preliminary Inquiries:  All criminal trials and preliminary hearings between Friday March 20, 2020 and Friday May 29, 2020 are suspended, subject to a judge seized with a continuing matter ordering otherwise.  Trials for out-of-custody accused will be adjourned without the accused being present to a date to reschedule the trial, in accordance with the procedure set out above.

Judicial pre-trials: Judicial pre-trials will continue to be available, but will be held by telephone only.

Trial confirmation dates:  If a matter is scheduled for a second event or trial confirmation date in respect of a trial that is scheduled to proceed on a date on or after July 6, 2020, the trial date is deemed to have been confirmed.

Urgent matters: The Court recognizes that some out-of-custody accused may have urgent matters that require the Court’s attention before their next court date, which will be sometime after June 1, 2020.  Examples include:  urgent guilty pleas (where there is a deadline for eligibility for particular program, e.g. Stream A in impaired driving, or where an accused is on particularly onerous bail conditions); urgent consent bail variations; urgent applications to vary police undertakings; or urgent applications to vary probation or conditional sentence conditions.

Family Matters:

This directive applies to all family court matters scheduled in the Ontario Court of Justice up to Friday May 29, 2020.
-Urgent Family Matters
Urgent family law hearings will be held by conference call, unless a judge orders otherwise.
Where an in-court attendance must occur, your local courthouse will make arrangements for your appearance.
Urgent family court matters will proceed on a prioritized basis.  These matters include:
Child, Youth and Family Services Act: place of safety hearings (s. 90); temporary care and custody hearings (s. 94), restraining orders (s. 137), status review hearings (s. 113), and secure treatment orders (s. 161);
Domestic matters: urgent custody/access motions; motions for restraining orders; Hague applications and non-Hague abduction cases; and
Family Responsibility and Support Arrears Enforcement Act: refraining motions (s. 35).
Instructions for filing urgent documents are as follows:
Filing Urgent Documents:
Documents and requests shall be sent by email to the appropriate courthouse.
-Non-urgent Family Matters:
All non-urgent matters, including trials, will be adjourned for 8-12 weeks. Parties with a non-urgent family court matter between Friday March 28, 2020 and Friday May 29, 2020 should request an adjournment.

Provincial Offences Act Matters:

All Provincial Offences Act matters scheduled from Monday, March 16, 2020 through to and including Friday, May 29, 2020 will be adjourned and rescheduled to a later date. If you have a matter scheduled during this time, you do not need to attend court.

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