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Citing lack of COVID-19 safety measures, courthouse workers, lawyers push back against Ontario reopening of courts

The reopening of Ontario’s courts next Monday is being challenged by prosecutors and courthouse staff, who filed a court notice saying they intend to seek a judge’s order to put a stop to it. They say the province’s plan lacks basic safety measures and would expose them and their families to the risk of “irreparable harm” from COVID-19.

Among other things, the group of 5,000 provincial and federal Crown attorneys, legal aid lawyers and courthouse staff is demanding a mandatory mask policy and a ban to entrants who are ill, or appear to be ill. The group filed its demands in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice last Thursday.

Some criminal-defence lawyers call the group’s demands hypocritical. They say that prosecutors have frequently opposed efforts to reduce the use of custody during the pandemic.


Michael Spratt, a criminal-defence lawyer based in Ottawa, said no one should have to return to an unsafe workplace, and courthouses could be made safer. “But Crown attorneys have consistently told court, when opposing bail or seeking custodial sentences, that jails are safe – despite outdated HVAC systems, the inability to physically distance, and most inmates being denied masks. This level of rank hypocrisy is unbecoming and deeply disappointing,” he said in an interview.


Read Sean Fines full article: The Globe and Mail

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