“Daily miracles” keep the justice system running, Quebec chief justice warns

The Quebec Supreme Court is seen in Montreal March 27, 2019.  (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press - photo credit)

The Quebec Supreme Court is seen in Montreal March 27, 2019. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press – photo credit)

The chief justice of Quebec’s Supreme Court says she is making extraordinary efforts to deal with legal system challenges – and her province is not the only one facing such struggles.

“Miracles happen every day to serve the people,” Judge Marie-Anne Paquette told CBC The house.

People within the system are bending over backwards to rearrange schedules and come up with creative solutions to address the shortage of judges, she said.

Justice Paquette used sharper language in a December interview with Montreal newspaper La Presse – she said the system was held together by “duct tape”. She called on the federal government to tackle judicial vacancies and create new jobs.

On Monday, the federal government announced the appointment of three judges to the Quebec Superior Court. But that still leaves nine job openings in Quebec — and nearly 90 nationwide.

“I don’t know if it’s reassuring or not, but I think we’re not the only ones … facing challenges like this,” Judge Paquette said in her interview with CBC.

She insisted that while the system is not on the brink of collapse, it must find ways to improve quickly.

Elections slowed appointments, Minister says

This was announced by Justice Minister and Attorney General David Lametti The house He is committed to unburdening the judiciary. He also said several factors have made the problem worse.

“We emerged from a pandemic that has presented the system with a unique set of challenges, just on top of the resource issues that I think have always been there,” he told CBC News.

Holding two federal elections in the past four years has slowed the appointment process for judges, Lametti said. He also pointed out that the government has created over 100 new judicial posts – meaning there are now more vacancies.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

However, a Quebec defense attorney says the justice system has been “chronically underfunded for decades” and is not using even basic digital technologies effectively.

“I practice literally the same today as I did 40 years ago,” said Ralph Mastromonaco, a Montreal-area attorney.

“Every other industry has embraced progress, embraced information technology and artificial intelligence to get things done faster and cheaper. But the criminal justice system is no match for that influence.”

Backlog Impairs Ability to Seek Justice: Advocate

The scarcity of resources, judicial vacancies and technological backwardness plaguing the justice system are causing delays that have real consequences for ordinary people, Mastromonaco said. He pointed to the special courts set up by Quebec to deal with sexual assault and spousal violence cases.

“There’s an avalanche of cases going on, and you know what? They will all be backed up,” he said.

And the prospect of waiting years for a verdict could deter a defendant from building a vigorous legal defense, he added.

“This leads to people either not pursuing their rights or seriously damaging the rights they would otherwise have if they were to sue them in court,” he said.

At the root of the problem, Mastromonaco said, is the fact that the justice system — unlike health care, education or transportation — is not seen by politicians as a political priority.

“What the pandemic has shown me and every Canadian is that the government has all the money it needs to do what it wants to do,” he said.

“Justice has never been a priority of our government…justice has always been neglected.”

CLOCK | Calls for changes to Canadian deposit rules:

The Liberal government has grappled with many changes to Canada’s legal system in its nearly eight years in power. It lifted some mandatory minimum sentences, implemented the Jordan decision – which limits the time trials must be held after charges have been brought – and reformed bail rules.

While the states are responsible for the administration of justice, the appointment of judges and part of the funds for legal aid flow through the federal government.

Justice Paquette agreed that getting policymakers to pay attention to the needs of the justice system can be difficult.

“We often fall under the radar,” she said. “We don’t necessarily or instinctively have a sense of how people would suffer if they couldn’t [have] direct or timely access to justice.”

Lametti said he also felt it was sometimes difficult to pay enough attention to the needs of the system.

“I have to be loud,” he said. “I try to be loud – especially on the inside – and I will continue to do so.”

Judge Paquette said she hopes her openness will convince people that there is a desire within the justice system itself to make things better.

“I speak as Chief Justice but I can assure you that all individuals at all levels involved in providing justice services to the population are aware that the situation is not perfect, that there are areas for improvement must and must. ” She said. “We’re all sensitive to that.”


Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button