This December the BC Provincial Court made changes to the criminal court process to improve its efficiency. For someone facing a trial, there are two changes that will impact their experience with the court process.
The first of these changes is the elimination of mandatory trial confirmation hearings. These hearings were held after the accused entered a not guilty plea to make sure that everyone was ready to go to trial. These hearings are now optional and will only be scheduled if necessary. As part of this change, lawyers will no longer need to prepare trial readiness reports and arraignment reports. Any trial confirmation hearings that are already booked will go ahead, although lawyers can request a cancellation.
The second change involves the two other court hearings for accused persons: the first appearance and the arraignment hearing. These hearings may now be in front of a judicial case manager rather than a justice of the peace or judge. To allow for this, the authority of judicial case managers has been expanded.
These two changes are meant to move simple matters from first appearance to arraignment within 60 days, and are meant to move more complex matters within 90 days.
More changes are in the works for 2014, which will help cut down on wasted court time.