Justice summit to audit broken system

Public asked to join lawyers and judges in Ontario Bar Association talks

Mar 13, 2007 04:30 AM

Crime Reporter

The broken justice system is going under the microscope this summer, when not just lawyers and judges but members of the public will come together for the first "justice stakeholders summit," the Ontario Bar Association is announcing today.

For the past nine months, the OBA has been holding town hall meetings across Ontario, canvassing opinions on issues facing the system.

And there are many, says James Morton, president of the association that represents 17,000 lawyers.

"The system seems to have gone off the rails and isn't serving the people of Ontario the way it should," he said yesterday.

Some of the problems raised at the meetings include lengthy delays in bringing family and civil matters to court and too many Charter challenges bogging down criminal courts.

Canada's Chief Justice, Beverley McLachlin, said in a speech last week that the high cost of litigation is making justice inaccessible for an alarming number of Canadians. "A person injured by the wrongful act of another may decide not to pursue compensation," McLachlin told the Empire Club in Toronto.

Some judges including Justice Michael Moldaver have pointed the finger at lawyers, which is why this summit is about hearing what others have to say, Morton said.

"Lawyers' solutions don't seem to have worked."

Morton promised this wouldn't be just another "talkfest," but described it as an ambitious event that will produce a report that will make comprehensive proposals for change.

"Getting it Right," will take place in Toronto, June 24 to 26.

Representatives from a variety of groups, including victims' rights, poverty activists and the aboriginal community, will work alongside invitees from all levels of government during three days of workshops.