Conducting certain cases or elements of a case by video can assist in moving matters forward when in-person proceedings continue to be limited on account of public health restrictions and safety concerns. However, there are lots of reasons experienced lawyers would say some aspects of a trial need to be carried out in-person. As lawyers, our concern is that justice must be done while those involved are kept safe. As a second wave of the virus looms, threatening to further restrict in-person proceedings, we must be willing to critically look at what works and what doesn’t in a remote setting. This is the challenge the bar is facing.
To assist the bar in determining what elements and what cases can properly be accommodated through remote proceedings, and what must be done in person, the OBA’s Criminal Justice section has prepared this demonstration of a remote trial. The demonstration provides an opportunity for both Crown and defence counsel to experience a remote trial. It will allow you to better visualize the process, so you can make appropriate and informed decisions as to whether your own cases would be suitable for proceeding in this manner.
The demonstration re-creates an impaired trial as a remote trial conducted entirely over Zoom. It utilizes the transcript from an actual case, which was conducted in-person. Participants, including the judge, Crown and defence counsel, and OBA staff members, were asked to maintain the spirit and substance of the transcript, although did not read it verbatim. Portions of the trial have been abridged for convenience where they did not add to the remote experience; however, all relevant procedural steps have been included.
Judge: The Honourable Enzo Rondinelli, Ontario Court of Justice
Crown Counsel: Lesley Pasquino, Ministry of the Attorney General*
Defence Counsel: William Thompson, Addario Law Group
Witness 1 (Arresting Officer): Ghazala Zaman, Crown Counsel, Public Prosecution Service of Canada*
Witness 2 (Breath Technician): Joe Heller, Ministry of the Attorney General*
Accused: Peter Gunnel, OBA Staff
Court Clerk: Jonathan Clancy, OBA Staff
*Participating in their personal capacity and not on behalf of their respective organizations.
To join us for a candid discussion with the participants from the remote trial demonstration to hear first hand about the experience, click here to register for our upcoming PD event.
If you have any comments or feedback on the demonstration or remote trials in general, we invite you to share it with us at firstname.lastname@example.org