3 New Judges Appointed to Southwest Ontario Courts to Clear Case Backlog
Canada’s Attorney General has appointed three new judges to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to serve the province’s fast-growing southwestern region and help clear a stubborn court case backlog.
A press release issued Monday by the Office of Attorney General and Attorney General David Lametti said Tuesday that Martha A. Cook, J. Ross Macfarlane and Joseph Perfetto will each fill vacancies in judgeships in London, Windsor and St. Thomas, Ontario.
More judges mean more cases can be solved faster, according to Andrew Murray, personal injury lawyer and partner at London law firm Lerners LLP.
“I can’t tell you how important it is for us to have the full body of judges here in our region to handle the many different cases that they have to handle,” he told CBC News.
“So it will definitely help any type of case, whether it’s criminal or civil.”
The total of five appointments, announced Tuesday by Canada’s Attorney General David Lametti, also include Nicola Edmundson, who will serve Belleville, and M. Claire Wilkinson for Brampton.
When approached by CBC News for comment, Cook and Macfarlane expressed their enthusiasm for the new position, adding that they were thrilled to be working with their new colleagues. Both declined to comment further.
Process delays have a major impact on clients: Attorney
The addition of three new judges fills the three vacancies left by outgoing judges, but Murray believes the total for the Southwest region is no longer enough to serve the region, which has seen rapid growth recently.
“When that number was set, it was many years ago, and in my own view it’s now lagging quite significantly behind the robust population growth that we’ve had,” he said. “We probably need two or three more in our region to keep up with our growth.”
Murray says he’s had trouble getting trial dates for some of his clients because the courts are still dealing with a build-up of cases from previous years. If matters are called, they could be pushed further back due to lack of space or unavailability for their hearing, he said
Civil lawsuits are usually last on the priority list because of the time sensitivity of criminal and family cases, he said.
“You can imagine how important it is to have a resolution on some of these issues of custody, access, support or, in more serious cases, child protection,” he said.
“You can’t wait for those things because the health and safety of families is at stake, but unfortunately they’ve put us at the bottom of the list.”
Murray advises his clients on the potential delays they could face if their matter comes to court, which may be due to factors other than court backlogs, but missing a timely appointment can have significant consequences for plaintiffs and their compensation, said he.
“The financial impact of not working and waiting for compensation can be life changing. People can lose their homes and families can separate under this crisis,” he said.
Murray says the province also needs to hire more court staff, including security guards and registrars, to keep operations running smoothly.