CRIMINAL | Will the COVID-19 Crisis Keep Us Modern?

AuthorIzadi, Melody

How this global pandemic has changed things for the better in our criminal justice system

The world is experiencing a pandemic that has been unprecedented in most of our lifetimes. While all of us have been affected individually, the criminal justice system has not been exempt from the effects of COVID-19. It too, serving as a primary and essential service in our country and in our provinces, has been forced to adapt to the rapid shift in limiting public gatherings and human interactions.

Like a busy market bazaar, on any given day pre-COVID-19, criminal courthouses were buzzing. A plethora of people would be running to and fro, emotions high, or waiting endlessly for a matter to commence. People were everywhere. Now, courthouses are closed to members of the public. While it was a confusing and abrupt change for all of its regular participants, our criminal courts have been forced to adapt to a sleeker and more efficient version of itself. Hearings and pretrials are now done via telephone or video conference. Materials and motions are being filed with the court electronically.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to be more efficient in our approach, more flexible. We are no longer averse to keeping criminal matters moving through the system via telephone or other electronic mediums. We are no longer required to print hundreds of pages to serve materials on the court. Justice has been updated. But, it took the criminal justice system a terrifying global pandemic to become more streamlined and modern in its practice. As one of the most ancient processes in our civilization, it's not hard to see why.

This newer and sleeker justice machine is of course categorized as a temporary response to the global pandemic. But whispers around tele-court hallways seem to suggest that there is a push coming from inside the belly of the beast to advocate for this streamlined and efficient new approach to criminal law...

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