Notice to the Profession and Parties Regarding Criminal Matters in the Central East Region

This Notice to the Profession and Parties is supplemental to the Central East Notice to the Profession and Parties dated June 1, 2022 which incorporates the Consolidated Provincial Practice Direction in Criminal Proceedings dated June 15, 2023.

The purpose of this Notice is to address the ever-increasing number of trials and pre-trial motions that do not proceed on the scheduled commencement date, or that take significantly less time than scheduled.

On October 12, 2023 all counsel and self-represented individuals with criminal trials that are scheduled in the Central East Region for the weeks of November 20, 27 and December 4 shall attend the Central East Blitz Assignment Court which will be conducted virtually.  The purposes of the assignment court will be to confirm that the Crown will proceed with the trial on the assigned date; to confirm that pre-trial motions will proceed as scheduled; and to determine the status of any resolution discussions. To that end, counsel (Crown and defence) who will be conducting the trial (or their fully instructed agents) are expected to attend with instructions concerning the status of the scheduled proceeding including but not limited to the following:

  1. Whether the Crown will be entering a stay of proceedings or withdrawing charges;
  2. Whether all Crown witnesses have been subpoenaed and that the complainant has confirmed their willingness to testify;
  3. Whether the accused will be re-electing his or her mode of trial and whether the Crown consents to the re-election. If there is to be a re-election, counsel must be prepared to attend with the accused in the Blitz Court to complete it. Counsel considering a re-election with his or her client may enquire of the judge presiding in the assignment court who will provide a list of up to four judges who may be assigned to conduct the trial;
  4. Whether all pre-trial motions have been completed and whether scheduled motions that have yet to be heard will proceed;
  5. In the event that there are pending motions, whether the necessary motion materials have been filed 30 days in advance, or otherwise in accordance with the directions of the pre-trial judge;
  6. Whether the accused will enter a plea based on resolution discussions that have resulted in an agreement between the Crown and the accused. If there are ongoing resolution discussions, counsel will be asked if a further judicial pre-trial will facilitate resolution.  If a judicial pre-trial is deemed appropriate, counsel can be assured the judge who did the original judicial pre-trial will be made available on an expedited basis; and,
  7. Any other issue that may impact on the trial proceeding including any anticipated request for an adjournment.

On a go-forward basis, commencing in January 2024, the Central East Region will conduct a Trial Readiness Court on the first Wednesday of each month, the purpose of which is to canvass the same issues as set forth in paragraphs A-G above for all trials that are scheduled in the following month.  By way of example, counsel with trials scheduled in February 2024 will be expected to appear in the Trial Readiness Court scheduled for the first Wednesday in January 2024, trials scheduled in March 2024 will appear in Trial Readiness Court the first Wednesday of February 2024, and so on.

For cases currently scheduled for trial, counsel and self-represented accused will be notified by the trial coordinator of the requirement to attend a Trial Readiness Court. Going forward, Trial Readiness Court dates will be fixed at the same time trial dates are fixed.

No requests for an adjournment of a Trial Readiness appearance will be entertained except in very exceptional circumstances.

Once a trial is confirmed to proceed in Trial Readiness Court it will be expected to proceed as a trial on the scheduled trial date.  In the event there is a late-breaking resolution, the Court will expect an explanation as to why the resolution did not materialize before the Trial Readiness Court.