There is no question about the fact that legal firms like Donich Law are doing their best in today’s tough situation. There have been extraordinary acts of accommodation, creativity and compassion although lawyers can only do so much in ensuring that everything is functioning.
The criminal justice system used to rely on archaic and outdated paper documents, face-to-face communications and personal appearances. However, the coronavirus pandemic forced courtrooms to shut down their operations across Canada as a necessary measure. Normal court operations were temporarily suspended to prevent courts from becoming the breeding ground of Covid-19.
In April, Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario Geoffrey Morawetz set the record straight when he said that in-court operations were suspended but the courts continue to operate and will continue to operate. Superior courts are open for business across the country with bail hearings conducted online or through the phone and guilty pleas accommodated.
Accused who are in-custody can plead guilty but in limited circumstances which is usually to get out of jail. Accused who are out-of-custody in some jurisdictions can also plead guilty if all of the parties agree that jail is off the table.
According to lawyers, they have clients who have been waiting for months in jail waiting for their day in court only to learn that their trial has been suspended without new trial dates. The justice system has forced the presumed innocent to suffer and wait in jail for an indeterminate time. There are people who have been released under strict bail conditions who want to plead guilty to serve shorter sentences but they can’t.
The criminal justice system has been reluctant to change even if Ontario Review Board was already conducting hearings through Zoom. Majority of trials can actually be conducted remotely and while it may not be the most perfect option, it better than allowing an innocent person to be held in jail without setting a trial date.
It is business as usual for Donich Law and the lawyers are doing their best during the crisis. They continue to provide individualized client service and deliver results that are beyond expectations. They are dedicated and hardworking people by nature which is reflected in their work.