New remand courtroom in Surrey to deal only with domestic violence charges

Posted to: 
Court
05/31/2016

This week the Provincial Court is launching an initiative to improve the way criminal cases are dealt with in their early stages in the Surrey courthouse. The Court deals with many thousands of new criminal cases in Surrey each year. Managing such a high caseload both fairly and efficiently is a challenge.



In December 2015 administrative judges organized a collaborative workshop to consider ways to better meet that challenge. Representatives of stakeholders and a workflow process expert discussed the workflows involved in taking an adult criminal matter from the point where police submit a report recommending charges to Crown Counsel to the point where an accused person sets a date for trial or pleads guilty and is sentenced. The group recommended moving forward with a proposal authored by Surrey Crown Counsel in consultation with other stakeholders – creation of a new remand (short matters) courtroom list dealing only with charges related to domestic violence.

Their recommendation was accepted by the relevant organizations, and everyone involved has worked very hard to begin the project in just five months.

Features of the initiative include:

  • It will be operated as a pilot project for a minimum period of 9 months with ongoing monitoring and evaluation.
  • It will deal with all appearances before a trial date is set on charges related to domestic violence - including bail, applications to change bail, guilty pleas, and sentencing hearings taking not more than 30 minutes.
  • It will be supported by a dedicated Crown Counsel domestic violence team and appropriately resourced by the judiciary, sheriffs and Court Services Branch of the BC Ministry of Justice.
  • Although the group recommended that an additional Legal Aid Duty Counsel be provided for the new court list, it has not been possible to arrange this. Existing Duty Counsel will be shared with the general remand courtroom.
  • Stakeholders will simultaneously address existing bottlenecks and inefficiencies in the remand system to avoid the new courtroom becoming “more of the same”.

The Provincial Court believes the initiative will offer two advantages. First, by removing a significant number of cases from the general remand courtroom, Court 101, it will provide more time to deal effectively with the remaining cases and avoid repeated adjournments. Second, by grouping cases involving domestic violence together it will permit judges and lawyers to use an informed, consistent, problem solving approach to this very serious societal problem. It will make access to the court proceedings involving them easier for victims, victim services workers and domestic violence counsellors.

This initiative will allow specialized police domestic violence teams, area anti-violence co-ordinating committees, and counselling providers to provide information and offer integrated services more effectively. Feedback will be solicited as part of the review process to be undertaken at the end of the pilot project.

Surrey Provincial Court courtroom assignments and start times

These are now the court rooms and morning and afternoon starting times for Provincial Court criminal matters in Surrey. For other court start times in Surrey and around the province see BC Provincial Court Locations & Hours on the Court’s website.

Division

Court Type

Courtroom

Days

Times

Adult Criminal

Remand (bail hearings)

101

Mon – Fri

9:30 am, 1:30 pm

JCM Court

103

Mon – Fri

9:00 am, 10:00 am, 1:30 pm

Dispositions

102

Mon – Fri

9:30 am, 1:30 pm

Remand (bail & arraignment hearings, sentencings) for domestic violence (“K”) files

104

Mon – Fri

9.30 am, 1.30 pm

Criminal, Family & Small Claims Trials

Assignment Court

311

Mon – Fri

9:00 am, 1:15 pm

Summary Proceedings Court

310

Mon – Fri

9:30 am, 1:30 pm