Court to resume in-person attendance

By Merna Emara
Staff Writer

Fort Frances mayor and council are expected to provide their approval for the resumption of in-person court attendance at the Fort Frances Provincial Offences Act (POA) Court.

Lisa Sheppard from the Provincial Offences Administration gave a presentation to the Administration and Finance Executive Committee saying they received a letter of endorsement from the Ministry of Attorney General Recovery Secretariat to support the move through the Municipal Approval to reopen the POA court location at 320 Portage Ave.

“Currently, court is going on through amazing technology, courts have pivoted very, very quickly,” Sheppard said. “And that will stay in place because it is proven to be a wonderful modernization of the course. This in person would be for those where the judiciary may fit to order an attendee to appear in person.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person court attendance has been shut down since March 16, 2020. Sheppard said in order to ensure the safety of all court orders since that time, all provincial offences locations across the province have had incredible guidance and support.

“During the past 17 months; municipal court locations quickly pivoted and readied their sites for remote proceedings, installed and implemented safety measures in accordance with the Ministry of Attorney General Recovery Secretariat policies and protocols,” Sheppard said.

To prepare for the resumption of in-person appearances, the municipal courthouse has implemented the same preventative measures that are in place in provincial court houses. These include completing a courthouse risk assessment and establishing preventive measures, active screening, installation of plexiglass and hand sanitizer stations, face covering and personal protective equipment.

“Court scheduling and the deployment of judicial resources for municipal courts is at the sole discretion of the Ontario Court of Justice and the final determination as to when in-person matters can be scheduled at any specific municipal location will be determined by the Office of the Chief Justice and in conjunction with our Regional Senior Justice of the Peace office,” Sheppard wrote in the report presented to the committee.