Toronto convention centre to be backup location for jury selection

Posted September 16, 2020 6:43 am

TORONTO — Some prospective jurors will be summoned to a downtown Toronto convention centre as the province resumes jury selection following a six-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a notice issued Tuesday to those in the legal field, the Ministry of the Attorney General says the Metro Toronto Convention Centre is “prepared to host jury events” on its targeted date of Sept. 16.

The ministry says the centre will be used as a backup location for the Superior Court of Justice and the Civil Superior Court of Justice.

The Ontario Superior Court temporarily halted in-person operations in mid-March due to concerns over the novel coronavirus, with all criminal and civil matters suspended or adjourned until June.

Read more: Coronavirus: Ontario courts resume some in-person proceedings

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Dozens of courthouses reopened in July, with more doing so this week.

However, Chief Justice Geoffrey B. Morawetz previously said jury selection and jury trials would remain on hold until September at the earliest.

Jury selection brings together large groups of prospective jurors, which raised concerns about the possibility of maintaining proper physical distancing and other health measures.

Read more: Ontario judge does away with signature requirement due to COVID-19 fears

In another document issued last week, the ministry said government staff visited the convention centre and conducted a risk assessment to identify any further controls that could help curb the spread of the virus during jury selection.

It called for, among other things, a staggered arrival for prospective jurors, mandatory face masks for the public and staff, and a deferral for any members of the public unable to wear a mask for medical reasons.

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