17 March 2010

Court docket now online

Word-for-word, the release issued by Provincial Court:

Effective March 3, 2010, the Provincial Court of Newfoundland and Labrador began providing improved public access and greater transparency by posting its daily Adult Criminal Docket online. The dockets are found online at http://www.court.nl.ca/provincial/adult/dockets.htm

The public and media now have the capability to go online and access, at their convenience, the daily Adult Criminal Docket for any Provincial Court location in the Province.

By providing this service the Court eliminates the need for the public, and particularly the media, on a daily basis to call or visit a court centre in order to confirm that a particular matter is scheduled for the following day. This access not only benefits the public and media, but improves the efficiency of the court by reducing phone calls and visits to the Court Registries.

The Small Claims Docket will also be available online in a few short weeks. As regards Youth and Family cases, there is specific legislation that prohibits the information contained in these dockets from being published.

Chief Judge Mark Pike said, “I am pleased that our Court Services Director has taken this innovative step to improve the efficiency of the Court’s daily operation and to make it more convenient for the thousands of people who have contact with us every year”.

Prominent St. John’s criminal lawyer, Randolph J. Piercey Q.C. stated “For many years lawyers, witnesses and those accused of crimes were required to crowd around a printed listing of the schedule posted outside the court door every morning. This was cumbersome and confusing. By having the docket posted and accessible online, all parties can confirm their schedules in advance.”

Pamela Goulding QC, Director of Public Prosecutions said “All too frequently, people went to the wrong courtroom or were mistaken about when their case was scheduled to proceed. Those who work in the courts such as police officers, lawyers and media personnel upon whom the public relies for information about what’s happening in our courts every day, were especially affected. Now, anyone with internet access can check the docket at their convenience. This will make it a lot easier for everyone. It just makes sense”.

The Provincial Court of Newfoundland and Labrador is the first Provincial Court in Canada to offer online daily Adult Criminal Dockets. The open court principle can be significantly enhanced through the appropriate use of existing information technologies.

“Innovative step”?

Just goes to show how far things have to come where something as patently obvious as posting a docket online is innovative.  Still it’s a good first step.

Of course, this isn’t the first court in the province to do this.  Trials Division of the Supreme Court has had its docket online for the better part of a year or more.