Long waits to file family court documents affect self-represented litigants in Brampton

Statistics from the Ministry of the Attorney General show wait times to file family matters at Brampton’s Superior Court of Justice reached nearly five times the ministry’s standard earlier this year

Most court filing is still done in person in Ontario. While many attorneys can afford to hire process servers or law clerks to file court documents for their clients, unrepresented members of the public must take care of this task themselves. And the more individuals there are filing family matters in fast-growing Peel Region, the longer the lines grow at Brampton Superior Court.

Statistics from the Ministry of the Attorney General show that average wait times to file documents at Brampton’s Hurontario Street courthouse, the A. Grenville and William Davis building (named for the province’s former premier, who might be troubled by the hardship being caused inside for some of his fellow Brampton residents) are some of the longest in the GTA.

According to the ministry, the “standard is to provide counter service to court clients in 30 minutes or less.” But in early summer, average wait times to file family matters at Brampton’s Superior Court of Justice reached two hours and 20 minutes, clocking in at nearly five times the ministry’s standard.

More recent figures show that the average wait is now down to 1 hour and 12 minutes — similar to the same quarter the year before, but still far longer than most GTA courts. (Only Newmarket’s time was longer in the quarter ending Sept. 30: 1 hour 13 minutes, up from just nine minutes in the previous quarter, an anomaly the ministry said could be blamed on that court being “in the process of replacing its queuing system.”)

Court delays have received more attention in the past two years because of a precedent set by the 2016 Jordan ruling, which capped provincial and Superior Court proceedings at 18 and 30 months, respectively. But administrative bottlenecks increasingly affect individuals in contact with the legal system.

Read the rest at ThePointer.com.

The Long Road to Overturning a Wrongful Conviction in Canada

According to data from Canada’s Department of Justice, most wrongful conviction cases fail to make it past the first stage

In 1992, Maria Shepherd pleaded guilty to a crime she didn’t commit: killing her three-year-old stepdaughter. Her lawyer told her she didn’t stand a chance against the testimony of renowned pathologist Charles Smith. Knowing she could spend years in prison away from her young children if she fought and lost her case, Shepherd pleaded guilty to manslaughter and lived with a wrongful conviction on her record for 25 years.

Thanks to the lawyers who worked on her behalf and a public inquiry that discredited the doctor, Shepherd’s wrongful conviction was finally overturned in 2016 on appeal. Although she only spent eight months in prison, less than half of her two-year sentence, the consequences of her wrongful conviction stayed with her for decades.

Although Shepherd’s wrongful conviction was overturned on appeal, sometimes appeals can serve to cement a wrongful conviction instead of correct it. Recognizing this possibility for gross injustice, the Department of Justice has established a review process for people who have been wrongly convicted even after an appeal. These individuals can apply for ministerial review to get a new appeal or—in cases involving more egregious miscarriages of justice—a new trial.

While the road to exoneration may be long and winding, the destination is desolate. The last 15 years of data from the Department of Justice show that the vast majority of ministerial review applications are unsuccessful.

Read the rest on the data journalism site the10and3.com.