The Hon. Justice Marc L. Bode
Editor’s note: The following letter, dated Dec. 7, was sent to Barb Morgan, president of the District of Rainy River Law Library Association, in response to her letter to the editor in last week’s issue of the Times.
Dear Miss Morgan:
I have your letter of Dec. 2, 2011. Having read it, I realized I needed to bring more clarity to the topic we discussed last week.
I understand from your letter that you believe that a change in a judge’s base court will result in a reduction of judicial services in the Rainy River District.
I can assure you that this is not the case. The designation of Dryden or Kenora as our next judge’s base court will not determine the amount of judicial sitting time the District of Rainy River, or any community in the District of Rainy River, will receive.
The change in base courts simply will make it easier for the court to distribute the judicial workload, and in particular the very significant travel associated with that workload, more evenly among the judiciary.
The designation of the next judge’s base court as Kenora or Dryden will not be a factor in determining the amount of judicial time the communities in the District of Rainy River will receive.
The amount of judicial sitting time given to any community in Northwestern Ontario is based on the needs of that community. The factors that are taken into account when determining the amount of judicial sitting time allocated to any community include:
1. The number of charges laid in that community.
2. The seriousness of those charges.
3. The percentage of those charges that require trial time.
4. The number of family law and child protection cases started in that community.
5. The percentage of those family and child protection cases that proceed to trial.
6. The average judicial sitting hours per day in that community.
The judicial sitting time that can be allocated to any community needs to be considered in the context of the needs of all of the communities in Northwestern Ontario.
Those needs fluctuate and the Ontario Court of Justice needs to respond to those fluctuations. I expect that in the future, there will be times when the communities in the Rainy River District will need more and other times when they will need less judicial sitting time.
That will depend on the number, the seriousness, and the complexity of the cases that are emanating from that community.
You and the other members of the Fort Frances/Rainy River Bar can be assured that our court will respond to those fluctuating needs.
Minor changes to the sittings schedule n the District of Rainy River will, as always, need to be made on an ad hoc basis. When any larger changes to the judicial sitting schedule are considered, those potential changes will be raised and discussed at the Fort Frances Local Justice Committee meetings before any decisions are made.
I am sure you are very conscious of the need to manage judicial resources carefully. As things currently stand, the judge whose base court is located in Fort Frances is currently required to sit outside the District of Rainy River far more than 50 percent of his total sitting time.
As a court, we need to minimize the judicial time consumed in travelling and spread the responsibility for judicial travel among the judiciary.
By identifying either Dryden or Kenora as the next judge’s base court, we are putting the next judge closer to where the greatest current need for judicial services exists.
This will reduce the overall travel commitment our judiciary makes and allow us to spread the travel more evenly among the judges.
I want to stress once again that it will be the need for judicial services in the District of Rainy River, and not the location of any judge’s base court, that will determine judicial sitting time in the District.
Yours very truly,
The Hon. Justice Marc L. Bode
Regional Senior Justice
Ontario Court of Justice