THE ADVOCATE 665
VOL. 78 PART 5 SEPTEMBER 2020
staff to work longer hours or weekends, and I think there would be real
pushback. I also think it would take a real culture change for the public to
tolerate evening and weekend hearings.
The Attorney General has tried to find creative solutions for dealing with
the backlog of motor vehicle cases. He proposed mandatory arbitration at
the plaintiff’s instance in motor vehicle cases and a one-year moratorium
on civil juries. However, the Trial Lawyers Association has issued a
response expressing concerns.
We’ve consulted with members of the bar on potential solutions. We’ve
heard them say that it would be a good thing to assign specific timeslots for
individual chambers applications. This is a great idea in theory, but because
there is always a number of applications that don’t go ahead, we would have
judges sitting around with nothing to do. So I don’t see this as a long-term
solution. But in the short term, we are going to try it. We also proposed moving
everything back by three months, but the criminal bar said that they
have commitments scheduled a year in advance, and bumping one matter
would mean bumping another.
I’ve said to various bar groups that if you didn’t get your trial heard
because of COVID-19, you can write to me and, if I’m persuaded it’s an
important matter, I will try to give you an earlier date. Of course, I can do
that only for a certain number of cases, but I’m willing to give special treatment
in deserving cases.
How, if at all, will advocacy look different in a post-COVID world?
I don’t foresee advocacy changing a great deal. There is a big push from certain
groups to do everything online. But, in my view, online resolution is
not an effective way of administering justice in cases of significance. I
believe oral advocacy is the best way of reasoning out a problem, and I
believe cross-examination is an important way of getting at the truth. I
would not want to see either of those transformed in any significant way.
There’s something that’s lost when you’re not in the same room.
What has been the impact on the judiciary and the court staff over the past few
I am proud of the judges of our court. Their view is: “We were appointed to
administer justice, and we can still do it.” The court staff have also been terrific.
They have had to overcome many challenges, and they have really
stepped up to the occasion. Our schedulers have been working 12 to 14
hours a day throughout this pandemic, under great pressure, and they are
still just as pleasant and professional as always.