Windsor lawyer pushing for elimination of jury trials

Ontario Court of Justice ( file photo)

A Windsor law office is pushing for the elimination of jury trials to lessen delays caused by COVID-19.

Windsor Injury lawyer Greg Monforton, along with the 12 other lawyers in his firm, is asking Attorney General Doug Downey to eliminate jury trials in Ontario while courts are closed due to COVID-19.

“Although we truly value our clients’ right to have a jury of peers decide their case, the realities of COVID-19 mean that our clients will suffer many more years of delay to get their cases to court. COVID-19 has closed our courts to jury trials. Eliminating juries will avoid more delay because we can immediately try cases “online/remotely” before a single judge,” said Monforton.

The Attorney General’s office is consulting with members of the justice sector to develop innovative ways to offer court services in a more accessible way while keeping in mind the barriers caused by the current health crisis.

“Attorney General Downey is smart to be looking at eliminating civil juries. He values access to justice, a cornerstone of our society, and hopefully, he proceeds with this proposal so that our clients can get their day in court,” said Monforton.

In a news release last month, Downey indicated changes could be made by the end of the summer.

“Our government will engage with justice sector partners, leaders and innovators to develop investment priorities that support new ways of delivering and increasing access to justice that spans the entire sector and province, including rural and remote communities and criminal, civil and family law fields. I look forward to sharing the outcomes of these consultations and our government’s transformational vision of a reimagined, 21st-century justice system later this summer,” said Downey in a recent news release.

Monforton says his firm is involved in many jury trials that are at serious risk of delay because of the current court closures.