THE ADVOCATE 663
VOL. 78 PART 5 SEPTEMBER 2020
dence given by video. For example, someone may be signalling answers to
the witness from behind the camera. That’s a concern.
Another challenge is space. Our courtrooms are not big enough to allow
us to take full advantage of the technology available. They were designed
before technology advanced to the stage it has reached today. Even the new
courthouse that’s going to be built in Abbotsford next year has limited space.
We are going to be challenged to make full use of technology given our
There are no easy fixes. We sit in 28 different locations across the
province. I’m of the view that if we are doing something in Vancouver, we
should be doing it in Fort St. John. The people in Fort St. John deserve the
same access to justice that the people in Vancouver have. If we are going to
use remote video equipment, it has to be province-wide. We can’t make it
available to some and not others.
We’ve had e-filing for some time, but the system is not perfect. Part of the
problem is that documents filed electronically go through Court Services
(which has its own platform), judges access those documents through a separate
platform, and the two platforms don’t meet. For some time, we’ve
been trying to find a way to marry the two so that when someone files
something in Fort St. John, someone who has time on their hands in
Nanaimo can access it and deal with it. It’s being looked at now, but there’s
no quick fix.
When I joined the court about 13 years ago, the judges were less comfortable
with technology than the current judges are. About a third of our
judges have been on the court for fewer than three years, and before that
they had practices where they were using technology, and they are quite
comfortable with it. I can see them being far more receptive to novel ways
of doing things. On the other hand, there is a reason why we’ve done things
the way we have for so long—it seems to work. We just have to find a way
to marry what’s available technologically with what we have traditionally
done to get at the truth and reach a fair result.
I think we are going to see some benefits from the technologies we’ve
implemented, but I don’t think they will lead to a transformation of the justice
system. We can do more with technology than we have been doing, but
it’s expensive, and the technology changes so quickly that we may not be
able to keep up. Also, the court has not taken full advantage of technology
because the provincial government—past and present—was not prepared to
spend the money.
Do you see a fully paperless process in the court’s future?
Yes, I do. It’s just a question of how quickly we’re going to get there.