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2008-2010 Report - Tribunaux de l'Ontario

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2008-2010 Report - Tribunaux de l'Ontariode,L,l

    THE SUPERIOR COURT OF JUSTICE

    Twentieth Anniversary Edition

    2008 2010 Report

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Photograph of the rotunda at Osgoode Hall taken from the second floor

ISSN 1918-9850 (Online)

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    TABLE OF CONTENTS CHIEF JUSTICE’S MESSAGE ........................................................................................... 4 ASSOCIATE CHIEF JUSTICE’S MESSAGE ..................................................................... 6 SENIOR FAMILY JUDGE’S MESSAGE ............................................................................. 7 INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................................ 9 JURISDICTION OF THE SUPERIOR COURT ................................................................. 11 Criminal ......................................................................................................................... 11 Civil ............................................................................................................................... 12 Family ........................................................................................................................... 13 Small Claims Court ....................................................................................................... 15 Divisional Court ............................................................................................................. 16 ADMINISTRATIVE STRUCTURE AND ACTIVITIES ....................................................... 17 Workload and Wellness Committee .............................................................................. 17 Security Committee ....................................................................................................... 18 Facilities Committee ...................................................................................................... 18 Education Committee .................................................................................................... 18 Library Committee ......................................................................................................... 19 Articling Committee ....................................................................................................... 19 Senior Family Judge’s Consultation Committee............................................................ 20 Technology Initiatives ................................................................................................... 22 REGIONS OF THE SUPERIOR COURT OF JUSTICE .................................................... 23 CENTRAL EAST REGION ............................................................................................ 25 CENTRAL SOUTH REGION......................................................................................... 33 CENTRAL WEST REGION ........................................................................................... 41 EAST REGION ............................................................................................................. 49 NORTHEAST REGION ................................................................................................. 57 NORTHWEST REGION ................................................................................................ 64 SOUTHWEST REGION ................................................................................................ 71 TORONTO REGION ..................................................................................................... 80 RETIRED JUDGES .......................................................................................................... 90 IN MEMORIAM ................................................................................................................. 92 ENDNOTES ..................................................................................................................... 93

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CHIEF JUSTICE’S MESSAGE

    thThe 20 anniversary of the Superior Court of Justice is an event that I am most proud to celebrate through the publication of this special Report. Our court’s provenance is inspiring; its

    earliest antecedent was established under the Magna Carta, as a guarantee of redress for individuals against the unlawful exercise of state authority. Today’s Superior Court of Justice is

    the evolutionary result of that meaningful beginning a modern constitutionally guaranteed stcourt of plenary jurisdiction, serving the mature 21 century legal requirements of all Ontarians.

    Our inaugural Annual Report, published in 2009, focussed on the institutional history of the Court and the way that history has shaped today’s Superior Court of Justice. By contrast, this

    biennial Report aims to celebrate the Court’s 20-year milestone through a comprehensive but

    concise regional focus. The Report highlights activities, achievements and challenges in each of our eight distinct regions and provides the salient regional statistics of the Court’s proceedings over the last two years. I hope that readers will enjoy learning more about the distinctive regional aspects of the Superior Court.

    At this juncture in the Court’s development, with the knowledge of our solid underpinnings, I

    am driven to look ahead. I have no doubt that in the next 20 years we will witness remarkable advances in the resources that support the Superior Court in service to the public. As the regional accounts in this Report indicate, we are well on the way to having thoroughly modernized courthouses with state-of-the art facilities in every region. The near future will bring sophisticated court information technology as the norm, with innovative and enhanced public access to court services and processes. With the committed collaboration of the Attorney General and his Ministry, numerous projects that will modernize the support services for the Court’s core functions are also underway; here, I refer to projects to transform or streamline court reporting, transcript production, court file management and judicial decision-making, as examples.

    While this future view embraces many changes, I am confident that our Court will sustain one constant the fine quality of the judicial decisions that has characterized the Superior Court of Justice throughout its 20 years. I am tremendously proud of our Court’s judges’ continuing

    accomplishments and the high regard in which the work of the Court is held by the public, the bar and other Canadian courts. I extend my sincere appreciation to the judges of this Court for their dedication to the highest values of judicial service. Our judges’ ability to maintain the

    highest quality of judicial decision-making is supported by a very dedicated judicial executive comprised of the Associate Chief Justice, the Regional Senior Judges and the Senior Family Judge. I express my sincere thanks to each of them for their contribution to the Court over the past two years and for their unfailing commitment in shaping this Court’s very optimistic future.

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    Throughout the modern history of the Superior Court, the members of the Court have been so fortunate to have a wonderfully able and supportive staff. The judges could not perform their vital function without their assistance. I express my great thanks to the staff of the Court and the Office of the Chief Justice for their contribution to the excellence that the Court has achieved.

    Heather J. Smith, Chief Justice

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ASSOCIATE CHIEF JUSTICE’S MESSAGE

    thI am very proud to join in presenting this special Report marking the 20 anniversary of the

    Superior Court of Justice. This document provides an opportunity to showcase the diligence and hard work undertaken by all of our judges.

    Below, I have highlighted some of my own activities from 2008 to 2010. In addition to these tasks, I try to maintain as full a sitting schedule as possible to play my part in managing the Court’s large and growing workload.

    While I frequently sit in trial, mediation and settlement proceedings, the lion’s share of my time

    presiding is spent at the Divisional Court. The Divisional Court is one of the most active appellate courts in Canada, second only to the Court of Appeal for Ontario by volume of new proceedings. Everyone at the Superior Court can take great pride in the efficient, timely and cost-effective manner in which these proceedings are disposed.

    I also continue in my role as Chair of the Court’s Deputy Judges’ Council, which oversees the operations of the Small Claims Court, the busiest branch of the Superior Court. On January 1, 2010, the jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court increased from $10,000 to $25,000. As a result, we fully expect significant increases in the overall volume and complexity of matters heard by the Small Claims Court in the coming years.

    At the Canadian Judicial Council, I continue as a member of the Executive Committee. It is also my honour to chair the council’s Administration of Justice Committee, which has

    established a working group that will collaborate with partners across the country to enhance access to justice in civil and family proceedings.

    On a final note, let me extend my sincere appreciation to all our court staff. Their daily efforts support our work in maintaining a fair, effective and efficient justice system in Ontario. I hope you enjoy this Report for 2008-2010!

    J. Douglas Cunningham, Associate Chief Justice

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SENIOR FAMILY JUDGE’S MESSAGE

    The way in which family law proceedings take place has changed dramatically over the last 20 years. We have moved away from the days when family law litigation was marked by the “ugly affidavit wars” and towards a system intended to encourage settlement.

    One of the hallmarks of this change was the expansion of the Family Law Rules across the province. The advent of the new Rules enhanced the case management nature of family proceedings, extending the judge’s role beyond adjudication. Today’s Rules-based family law

    system focuses heavily on fostering early resolution through conference proceedings. The common set of Family Law Rules to govern all family proceedings in Ontario has promoted less adversarial approaches to family law. Nevertheless, the family courts have undoubtedly faced many challenges over the years. Family law proceedings have increased in both number and complexity throughout the province. At the same time, a steady growth has occurred in the ranks of litigants who appear before the Court without legal representation. Whether these individuals are self-represented by circumstance or choice, there is no denying that their rising number has had a significant impact on the development of family law over the years and will continue to do so in the future.

    These challenges have placed additional pressures on the judges, who are more actively engaged in the management, organization and settlement of cases, in addition to the adjudication of motions and trials. In an effort to assist judges in managing these pressures, over the years, the Superior Court of Justice has developed a variety of strategic goals, policy objectives and guiding principles aimed at improving the family law system. Many of these initiatives are outlined in more detail in the Family Law section of this Report. These include more up-front information, more assistance to litigants to make their cases judge-ready and enhanced legal aid services. As the Senior Family Judge, I have had the pleasure of working closely with the Regional Senior Judges Council, my judicial colleagues and other justice partners in bringing many of these goals and objectives to fruition.

    I would like to extend my deepest thanks to all those who have worked so hard to implement the many new projects that will improve family proceedings for both the litigants and the judges in our courts. I would also like to thank all of my judicial colleagues: as judges hearing family law cases, you have all demonstrated your extraordinary commitment and dedication to the needs of children and families in the justice system.

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     th Anniversary Report both interesting and informative, and that you will I hope you find this 20

    take a few moments to consider the challenges we have overcome and the tremendous achievements we have made in family law over the last two decades. Mary Jane Hatton, Senior Family Judge

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INTRODUCTION

    thThe newest iteration of the Superior Court in Ontario is celebrating its 20 anniversary in 2010.

    This most recent restructuring of the province’s superior court was established under the

    Courts of Justice Amendment Act, 1989, when the High Court of Justice for Ontario merged with the District Court and the Surrogate Court on September 1, 1990. This was the first major reform of the Ontario court system in more than100 years. This seminal event created the largest superior court in Canada and also regionalized courts administration through the formation of eight judicial regions. The Small Claims Court and the Divisional Court were continued by the legislation as branches of the new court. Initially known as the Ontario Court (General Division), the new court received its current name, the Superior Court of Justice, in April 1999.

    With jurisdiction over criminal, civil, and family cases, the Superior Court of Justice presides in 50 locations throughout Ontario. It currently has a complement of 242 full-time judges, as well as 75 supernumerary judges. Over the last 20-year period, the Court has experienced and adapted to profound changes in the law and also in the social fabric of Ontario, since what takes place inside the courthouse is generally a reflection of what happens in the community around it.

    Each of the Court’s regions has its own physical beauty or unique points of interest. So too, the

    courthouses in each region are unique. Some structures are wonderfully historic, reflecting the classical architectural rules and philosophy of earlier eras; others are striking, modern styles; while still others are a mix of the two approaches.

    The business of the Court varies somewhat from region to region as the statistics in this Report demonstrate. The work of the Court also differs between regions that have Family Court branch sites. Moreover, every region faces distinct challenges, vast distances between centres, meeting the needs of expanding demographics and employing the best new technologies to enhance access to justice.

    The constant that binds this Court together, despite these many regional differences, is the commitment of its judges who meet the challenges and improve the Court’s service to the

    public. This Report aims to highlight the Court’s diverse regional features and each Regional thSenior Judge is pleased to provide that perspective in this 20 Anniversary Report.

    The following pages look back over the past two decades and also recount the highlights of the past two years, 2008-2009 (ending March 31, 2009) and 2009-2010 (ending March 31, 2010).

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Photograph of the Renfrew County Courthouse in Pembroke, Ontario

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