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Court Services is developing a policy to assist Court Security Deputy Sheriffs with the screening process at courthouses and circuit points throughout the province. The purpose of the policy is to properly direct and prioritize the flow of foot traffic into each location to ensure that proper physical distancing can maintained.
Perhaps the most important factor in effectively managing foot traffic will be advanced warning when a person is expected to attend the courthouse. As such, counsel is asked to contact the Court Security Deputy Sheriffs by noon the day before the matter to advise of specific people who are expected to attend the courthouse. This list includes:
In the event the appearance is in out of custody docket where the Court has otherwise encouraged counsel to appear by phone and to advise their client to not attend if counsel will speak to their matter for them and a designation has been filed, counsel must advise Court Security Deputy Sheriffs if the client is required to attend in person or if counsel attends to appear in person.
If the matter is set for a preliminary hearing, trial, or pre-trial conference, counsel is again expected to advise Court Security Deputy Sheriffs the day before by noon of specific persons who are expected to attend and in which courtroom.
The notification should indicate the courtroom the matter is set to be heard, if it is known, and the time the person is expected to attend. We also ask that counsel assist by staggering the attendance of witnesses at the courthouse based on when their evidence is set to be heard, and to also advise if there are particular sensitivities related to the attendance of certain individuals.
We understand that counsel is providing this information to court staff at some locations. We kindly ask that counsel also relay this information to the contacts that are listed below as soon as it is available, though no later than noon the day before the expected attendance.
In the event that a matter is to proceed at a circuit point, counsel should be relaying this information to the Court Security Deputy Sheriff contact for the home court location indicated above.
Court Security Deputy Sheriffs have been advised that, should a person not be permitted to enter a courthouse due to their responses to the COVID screening or because their attendance cannot be accommodated given the number of people previously admitted to the courthouse or courtroom, that person will be provided the contact details to the court office to determine next steps. Where appropriate, counsel will be advised that the person is unable to enter the courthouse. Deputy Sheriffs will also not publicly relay the purpose of the person’s attendance at court.
The referenced policy separately addresses the attendance of self-represented litigants, though if opposing counsel does have information on a matter set to proceed it would be helpful if that were relayed as well.