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Problem & Solution: The set-date system

I recently came across this post from the Precedent Magazine blog about whether the ipad presented potential for lawyers.  One of the comments pointed out that many lawyers are unwilling to embrace technology.  This got me thinking, once again, about how draconian many aspects of the court system is in Ontario.

Every so often I will provide an example of a problem with the court system and suggest a solution for this problem.  Please feel free to comment and provide new ideas.

Problem:  The set-date system.

Issue:  Those charged with a criminal offence are given a first appearance date.  After this appearance, where they may or may not receive initial disclosure, they are given a second appearance date.  This process continues until the matter is ready to be set for trial, plea, or the charge is withdrawn or stayed.  It’s not that far-fetched to see matters having 10+ appearances before anything substantial happens with the case.  One reason for this is the person has been unable to hire counsel, but there are several other reasons, such as meaningful disclosure not being provided by the Crown.

Lawyers must make arrangements to have someone speak to their matters each time it is up in court.  This could be the lawyer or client themselves or another lawyer, paralegal, student, etc.  For those with busy practices, it can be a lot of work arranging these appearances, a majority of which are purely administrative.

Solution:  For those matters with lawyers, assign a Judge or Justice of the Peace to case-manage matters, and do everything by email or through a specially-designed online program.  Besides cutting down on court time, matters would likely move along much quicker.

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