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Jury selection in Toronto, Brampton and Ottawa suspended due to COVID-19

File photo, Superior Court of Justice. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Lars Hagberg

Jury selection for upcoming trials are being suspended for at least the next month in Brampton, Toronto and Ottawa.

The move is in response to the province’s decision Friday to return to a modified Stage 2 for three COVID-19 hotspot regions.

Among the restrictions imposed is a limit of social gatherings to just 10 people while indoors.

In a notice posted on the Ontario courts website Chief Justice Geoffrey B. Morawetz of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice said as a result, new jury selections in those three areas are suspended for the next 28 days with a suggestion that future cases consider going virtual.

“In-person non-jury trials and other in-person proceedings (including civil and family matters) that are upcoming in Brampton, Toronto and Ottawa can proceed as scheduled in-person if they are limited to 10 persons or less in the courtroom,” said Morawetz. “However, efforts should be made to hear matters remotely, wherever possible.”

Morazetz said the decision to continue with any court cases currently underway will be left up to the trial judge. He adds court officials should be “flexible” when it comes to the concerns of individuals attending court.

“I recognize that some counsel, parties and justice participants may be uncomfortable attending a courthouse during this time. Some may have underlying health conditions, or live with someone who does, or have other issues arising from the pandemic,” said Morawetz. “I encourage counsel and parties to be accommodating when requests for virtual hearings are made by opposing counsel or parties.”

Jury trials and jury selection resumed last month after being put on hold for six months due to the pandemic.