I previously blogged about Chief Justice Morawetz’s December 29, 2020 Notice to the Profession that that all non-jury matters shall proceed virtually unless it is absolutely necessary for the matter to be conducted in person.
Chief Justice Morawetz now has put forward a new Notice to the Profession dated April 20, 2021. Due to the worsening COVID-19 situation, in order to reduce the number of court staff, counsel or parties required to leave their homes to participate in court proceedings, the Court will defer as many matters as possible until May 7, 2021. This includes virtual hearings.
The Court will focus on hearing the following matters:
- the most serious child protection matters
- urgent family matters
- critical criminal matters, and
- urgent commercial or economic matters where there are employment or economic impacts.
Matters that are currently in progress can continue (subject to the trial judge’s discretion) but alternate arrangements should be made for those who do not wish to attend in-person.
It is a useful and proactive step for the court to minimize any in-person hearing. However, given the steps that have been made in providing electronic copies of documents, hopefully, as many virtual hearings can proceed. To the extent that, e.g., a court registrar has to physically be present in a court-room with other people the hearing is not truly virtual and may need to be deferred. If all people involved in a hearing can do so remotely, however, it would be best and most efficient if these virtual hearings could continue.