The Provincial Court of BC is committed to accountability, openness and transparency. One of the ways it fulfills this commitment is by issuing yearly reports to the public on its work. The Court’s 2015/16 Annual Report - providing information on the Court’s innovative initiatives, caseload statistics and trends, judicial demographics, governance, budget, and complaints – is now available. In this eNews Provincial Court Chief Judge Thomas Crabtree outlines some of the report’s highlights.
In his introductory message Chief Judge Crabtree announced:
Other areas of innovation highlighted in the report are expanded use of video technology to save 29,505 transports for prisoners required to appear in court for preliminary matters; the Court’s intern program for Allard Law School students; and the Court’s website (with a 12% increase in traffic over the preceding year), weekly eNews articles, and active Twitter account. Specialized courts continued to help addicted and mentally ill offenders address their problems, and the Chief Judge spent considerable time with First Nation communities discussing their interest in adding to the province’s First Nation courts.
In 2015/16 almost 200,000 new cases of all types were filed in BC’s Provincial Court. With a 2% increase over the previous year, this was the second year in a row in which caseload volume increased. Looking at the breakdown by subject matter, the number of new adult criminal and child protection cases increased while other subject areas decreased. From a regional perspective, the Fraser Region continued to see the highest volume of new cases, while the Vancouver Region continued its slight but steady decline of the past five years.
Chief Judge Crabtree commented,
He also noted,
The Court’s judicial complement (the number of Judges) remained almost constant in this fiscal year. Fifteen new Judges were appointed, but eight Judges elected to work part time in the Senior Judges Program and nine retired. Chief Judge Crabtree noted, “Sadly, the Court also lost two exceptional judges in 2015 when Judge Anne Wallace of Kelowna and Judge Russell Mackay of Chilliwack passed away in October and December respectively. Both are sorely missed for the uncommon energy, positive attitudes, compassion, and good humour they shared.”
The average daily number of full-time equivalent Judges (the number of Judges adjusted to reflect the part-time work done by Senior Judges) was 124.49, the second lowest in the last five fiscal years. Appointments of male and female judges in the last 36 months were almost even, and most judges were aged between 51 and 65, with an overall average and median age of 60.
Chief Judge Crabtree noted the importance of an open and accountable complaint process,
The Chief Judge concluded,
Learn more, including details on judicial demographics, operational standards, caseload, time to trial, pending cases, methodology for reporting cases, governance, court committees, and a financial report, in the BC Provincial Court’s 2015/16 Annual Report.