Our court systems have, in recent years, been said to be
inefficient, sometimes ineffective, and even backlogged to the
point where cases have to be dismissed because of how long it
takes for them to get to court. After my trip to court, these
are my opinions and observations on the “Efficiency and
Effectiveness of our Criminal Court System”.
The court procedures of provincial court are very systematic
and are carried out very swiftly. It is much like a tennis
match, the ball, or control in the court, is volleyed back and
forth between the judge (and court clerk) and the lawyers. The
court clerk arraigns the accused, the defence lawyer responses
with how the accused pleas, if it is “not guilty”, the court
clerk asks how the Crown lawyer wishes to proceed and so forth.
However, this is not so in the Ontario Supreme Court (Trial
Division), though similar in methodical procedures, the court
cases are longer and much more time is spent on each individual
part of the case, from presenting the evidence to cross-
examination of the witness, this is because of the amount of
The general atmosphere and behaviour in the Provincial
Courtrooms were general loose and calm. The people, lawyers,
judge, clerk and recorder seem to know each other very well.
They joked openly, even while the court was in session, the
defence lawyer asked if he could persuade the judge into a
lighter sentence after the judge had already made a decision in a
very easy and friendly tone of voice, something seemly
unprofessional that caused chuckles throughout the courtroom.
Where in the Ontario Supreme Court the atmosphere was much more
serious, professional, strict and at times high in tension.
Our current bail system, in either monetary terms or
personal recognizance, seemed pretty successful in Provincial
Court, though not observed in the Ontario Supreme Court, all the
people did show up for their trial, which included two people on
bail for possession of marijuana cigarettes. As a final note, no
bench warrant was every called for by the judge for people whom
failed to attend their trial.
The necessity of the duty council is for those who don’t
have a lawyer and is for their benefit that they discuss legal
options that the accused might have before proceeding, however
this part of the system is not very efficient as the court must
adjourn for this and thus waste valuable time that could be
otherwise used for processing other court cases.
The Crown Attorney in provincial court was, on the whole,
fairly well prepared, efficiently bring relevant facts to
attention, friendly and well acquainted to the defence lawyers as
well as the judge, and quick to get to the point that he was
trying to prove. There was little time wasted, between the
arraignment and the sentencing, on the part of the Crown
Attorney. In Ontario Supreme Court, the Crown Attorney there
seemed well prepared, efficient, and quick, however there seemed
to be a lack of personal evolvement in the case, rather he seemed
emotionless, just doing his job, not being familiar with the
judge or other people in the court room. By the way he presented
and dressed, he appeared far more strict and serious in conduct
and appearance than his Provincial Court counterpart.
Calling a remand can be helpful in that it allows witnesses,
especially key witnesses, to be present at a later date when it
is possible for them to attend the trial, as duty may call them
to do otherwise. The disadvantages, however, are mostly on the
accused’s part, as s/he must remain in custody longer in order to
be brought back to trial.
The necessity for a lawyer for minor offences can sometimes
outweigh the cost the accused must pay for them because the
lawyer understands the law and how the system works, he might be
able to point out some small discrepancies or may suggest what
type and how much punishment is suitable for the accused’s crime.
The lawyer may also point out that if the person has a record,
how old it really is, as records older than 5 years old that are
not cleared are disregarded by the judge. They also help the
cases progress faster as an accused legal options will be already
made clear to him by his/her lawyer.
Lawyers are absolutely necessary for major cases, as the
accused may not understand his legal rights clearly or may not
know how to defend himself correctly in the correct the manner
during trial in court.
Court judges in Provincial Court were generally looser than
those in Ontario Supreme Court as that the one we saw in Supreme
Court seemed more serious, lacked in emotional expressions, but
also easily bored. However in Provincial Court, they were
serious but there was room for humour and understanding of the
accused’s situation. Over all they looked like they enjoyed
All in all, the system we currently have cannot be any
better as it is efficient as humanly possible without violating
any individuals rights as in the Charter.