The setting of dates for trial or preliminary inquiry is an essential function in our courthouse. In an effort to expedite and improve the process, certain changes will take effect June 1, 2019. These changes affect how guilty plea dates are set and how Judicial pre-trial dates are obtained. Future improvements in service are contemplated for setting trial dates when a full time Assistant Trial Coordinator (ATC) position is filled.
Guilty Plea Dates
Currently all guilty plea dates are set through the Trial Coordinator (TC). The institution of a guilty plea court in 306 brought some unknowns about the number of matters that would be dealt with in that court, therefore Justice Campling had all dates for guilty plea set by the TC/ATC. With some experience with the new court, it is apparent that having some matters set directly into 306 court from other courts without obtaining a date from the trial coordinator is desirable. The clerks will have access to a template in every courtroom (similar to the IP/VR or Video remand template). Up to 10 matters a day can be set directly into courtroom 306 by populating the template with the defendant’s name and adjourning the matter directly to that court. In order to ensure that all matters are reached in that court, any additional matters (over the 10 directly set matters) must be set by contacting the TC/ATC. Only the TC/ATC have authority to increase the number of guilty pleas set above 10 in courtroom 306. Additionally, up to 4 guilty pleas per day and 4 s. 25 YCJA applications can be set directly into courtroom 302 on Wednesdays by use of the same template, with any added matters requiring TC/ATC approval. As that court only sits in the morning (until 12:30 pm) any matters not reached will be traversed to courtroom 306 to be completed in that court. I will continue to monitor the efficacy of this new process in case any changes to the system are required.
Stand Down Matters
There is a history of stand down guilty pleas in Hamilton. As we now have a guilty plea court, matters need not be set for “stand down guilty plea” anymore. As a date can usually be obtained for the next day for guilty plea in 306, they are no longer necessary. If prisoners are in a time served position, either a direct adjournment to the guilty plea court can be set (where there is less than 10 matters in the court) or the TC/ATC can be contacted to set the matter into the guilty plea court with dispatch. Judges will still ensure that matters that were truly marked to set a date in courtroom 100/204, where the defendant has had the matter stood down for a guilty plea, are dealt with by a judge when available. Matters can no longer be set for a stand down guilty plea in 100/204 but only to set a date. Only true stand down matters can be traversed to a judge’s court with that court’s permission, if and when that court becomes available. The era of setting a stand down guilty plea in Hamilton is over.
Setting Judicial Pre-Trials
In an effort to provide flexibility and to decrease the line up to set matters down for trial outside 204 court, JPTs can now be set by e-mail, by phone or by attending at the trial coordinators office. They will no longer be set outside courtroom 204 in order to expedite setting trial/PH dates. You will not need to have a representative from the Crown Attorney’s office to be able to set a JPT. JPTs are required for all matters estimated to take 1 day or more for trial or preliminary hearing. Any matter where counsel have estimated more than 4 witnesses will require a JPT, regardless of counsel’s estimate, as experience has shown these matters usually take more than a day.
The schedule for JPTs will follow the vertical case management system used by the Crown. As such, the last letter of the defendant’s name will define on which days a JPT slot will be available.
Monday - no A-E
Tuesday – no F-N
Wednesday – no Federal
Thursday – no O-Z
Friday – no Domestic
In order to set a JPT the information required for the Judicial Pre-trial Verification Form (JPTVF) must be provided in full by counsel when they e-mail, phone or attend at the TC office. Failure to do so will result in no JPT being set unless the JPTVF can be completely and properly filled out. This means that you must provide all the information numbers for all charges, names of all defendants who are co-accused with the defendant, the estimated number of witnesses for both the crown and defence and a trial time/PH estimate. You will only be able to set a JPT if a Crown pre-trial meeting/resolution meeting has been held.
Setting Trials or Preliminary Inquiries
Trial dates and Preliminary Inquiries will continue to be set by the TC/ATC in the current manner. The window of availability outside courtroom 204 continues to be from 9:00 am – 11:30 am. When a full time ATC is trained and in place I will revisit this issue to ensure adequate service to set dates.