Canadian Judicial System

The Courts and a description of the Judicial Structure that currently exists in Ontario & Canada (Supreme Court):

Supreme Court of Canada
The Highest Court in Canada – Canada’s final court of appeal
Court of Appeal of Ontario
The Highest Court in Ontario

The Court of Ontario has two (2) divisions:

Superior Court of Justice
(the higher or general division)
(eight regions in Ontario)
deals with all Civil Matters
deals with Divorces
deals with family law where there is a dispute over division of assets
deals with criminal matters (90% +)
Ontario Court of Justice
(the lower of Provincial Division)
deals with Highway Traffic Act cases
deals with Provincial Offences Act cases
shares jurisdiction with Superior Court
over family law issues (Family Court)
deals with summary convictions under the Criminal code
bail/release applications
deals with criminal trials with judge/jury

The Ontario Court of Justice is one of two (2) trial courts in Ontario (along with the Superior Court of Justice).  The Ontario Court of Justice is made up of Provincially appointed Judges and Justices of the Peace and are paid by the Provincial Government.  The Superior Court of Justice is made up of Federally appointed Judges and are paid by the Federal Government.

The Superior Court of Justice has within it, three (3) branches:

Family Court
Divisional Court
Small Claims Court

In December 2008, the Auditor General of Ontario, Jim McCarter CA, released the Auditor General’s 2008 Annual Report.  He made several findings, including the information contained below:

The Ontario Court of Justice (OCJ) handles approximately 97% of the 620,000 criminal and criminal youth charges tried annually, including bail hearings, preliminary hearings, and trials. It may also deal with certain family law matters, such as child welfare.

The Superior Court of Justice (SCJ) tries more serious criminal cases: family law matters dealing with divorce, division of property, and child welfare; and all civil matters, including small claims. This court may also hear appeals of cases originating in the Ontario Court of Justice.

The Court of Appeal for Ontario (CAO) hears appeals from decisions of the Ontario Court of Justice and the Superior Court of Justice.

The federal government appoints and remunerates judges in the Superior Court of Justice and the Court of Appeal for Ontario; the province appoints and remunerates judges and justices of the peace in the Ontario Court of Justice.

We refer to the judges and the justices of the peace collectively as the Judiciary. As of March 2008, there were about 285 judges and 345 justices of the peace in the OCJ, 300 judges in the SCJ, and 24 judges in the CAO.

Justices of the peace work primarily in criminal law matters, including presiding over bail hearings and issuing summonses or search warrants. In addition, collectively, they spend about 45% of their time presiding in municipal courts adjudicating provincial offences, such as those under the Highway Traffic Act, and municipal bylaw infractions, such as those under the Liquor Licence Act.

JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS ADVISORY COMMITTEE:

On 15 December 1988, the then Attorney General, the late Honourable Ian Scott, announced in the Ontario Legislature the establishment of the Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee as a pilot project, and set out its mandate:

  • First, to develop and recommend comprehensive, sound and useful criteria for selection of appointments to the judiciary, ensuring that the best candidates are considered; and
  • Second, to interview applicants selected by it or referred to it by the Attorney General and make recommendations.On February 28, 1995, the Courts of Justice Act established the Committee by legislation, pursuant to section 43 of the Courts of Justice Act. All appointments to the Ontario Court of Justice must be made by the Attorney General from amongst a list of applicants recommended to him by the Committee, and chosen in accordance with its own process of criteria, policies and procedures.Here are some of the Annual Reports generated by this Committee:
    2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

    The 1999 Annual Report:
    In 1999, the Committee met 31 times to select candidates, carry out interviews, and to determine
    Committee policies and procedures. This included 8 selection/business meeting days and 23 interview
    days. Over 180 applicants have been interviewed and 67 have been recommended, from which the
    Attorney General has selected and appointed 18 judges.
    The total number of applicants to date is 1,926 of whom 549 (29%) are women.

    The 2000 Annual Report:
    In 2000, the Committee met 26 times to select candidates and conduct interviews. Over 140 applicants
    have been interviewed and 47 have been recommended, from which the Attorney General has selected and
    appointed 13 judges.
    The total number of applicants from the inception of the Committee to December 31, 2000 is 2,052, of whom 585 (29%) are women.

    The 2001 Annual Report:
    In 2001, the Committee met 16 times to select candidates and conduct interview
    s. Over 80 applicants have been interviewed and 45 have been recommended, from which the Attorney General has selected and appointed 4 judges. As of the end of December, 2001, recommendations had also been made for five other judicial vacancies from which the Attorney General had not yet made his selection.
    The total number of applicants from the inception of the Committee to December 31, 2001 is 2,152, of whom 618 (29%) are women.

    The 2002 Annual Report:
    In 2002, the Committee met 14 times to select candidates and conduct interviews. Over 65 applicants have been interviewed and 43 have been recommended, from which the Attorney General has selected and appointed 13 judges.
    The total number of applicants from the inception of the Committee to December 31, 2002 is 2,181, of whom 628 (29%) are women.

    The 2003 Annual Report:
    In 2003, the Committee met 27 times to select candidates and conduct interviews. Over 143 applicants have been interviewed and 98 have been recommended, from which the Attorney General has selected and appointed 14 judges.
    The total number of applicants from the inception of the Committee to December 31, 2003 is 2,356, of whom 701 (30%) are women.

    The 2004 Annual Report:
    In 2004, the Committee met 26 times to select candidates, conduct interviews and attend to Committee businesses. Over 104 applicants have been interviewed and 35 have been recommended, from which the Attorney General has selected and appointed 15 judges.
    The total number of applicants from the inception of the Committee to December 31, 2004 is 2,431, of whom 729 (30%) are women.

    The 2005 Annual Report:
    In 2005, the Committee met 25 times to select candidates, conduct interviews and attend to Committee businesses. 161 applicants have been interviewed and 49 have been recommended, from which the Attorney General has selected and appointed 16 judges.
    The total number of applicants from the inception of the Committee to December 31, 2005 is 2,580, of whom 778 (30%) are women.

    The 2006 Annual Report: http://www.ontariocourts.on.ca/jaac/en/annualreport/2006.pdf
    In 2006, the Committee met 26 times to select candidates, conduct interviews and attend to Committee business.138 applicants were interviewed during the period and 63 have been recommended, from which the Attorney General has selected and appointed 20 judges.
    The total number of applicants from the inception of the Committee to December 31, 2006 is 2,700, of whom 833 (31%) are women.

    The 2007 Annual Report:
    In 2007, the Committee met 20 times to select candidates, conduct interviews and attend to Committee business.97 applicants were interviewed during the period and 31 have been recommended, from which the Attorney General has selected and appointed 6 judges.
    The total number of applicants from the inception of the Committee to December 31, 2007 is 2,787, of whom 868 (31%) are women.

    Here is the link for the SiteMap with regard to the Ontario Courts.

    See the Ministry of the Attorney General’s – Court Services Division – Annual Report, 2008/2009.

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