Judge-Led Intensive Case Management Court certificates
What is the Judge-Led Intensive Case Management Court (JICMC)?
Due to the pressures of COVID-19, there is a significant, concerning, and challenging backlog in the Ontario Court of Justice and the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. This backlog has a disproportionate effect for unrepresented accused people.
In response, the Courts, Legal Aid Ontario, and the Ministry of the Attorney General have partnered in finding solution to manage this backlog. The efforts have brought about the “Judge-Led Intensive Case Management Court” and special Legal Aid Ontario certificates to cover legal fees so that those who are stuck in the system, can get the help they need at no cost.
How can I find a lawyer to help me in the Judge-Led Intensive Case Management Court?
The easiest way is find a lawyer to assist you is to contact a criminal defence lawyer you know, or who has been recommended to you, and query whether they will accept such certificates.
If you are in the Greater Toronto Area (Toronto, Newmarket, Scarborough, Brampton, Durham Region, etc.), our firm is accepting these certificates, on a case-by-case basis, to assist with this initiative. You can reach us directly at (416) 999-8389, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also find a lawyer using Legal Aid Ontario’s “Find a Lawyer” resource.
What can I expect using the Judge-Led Intensive Case Management Court?
A person using the JICMC program can expect a lawyer to offer them objective advice that is directly responsive to their particular legal situation. Lawyers can negotiate with the Crown Attorney to reach a resolution that all parties can tolerate. The negotiations may bring about offers to withdraw charges, guilty pleas to lesser offences, reductions in sentencing positions long held by the prosector, and much more. It goes without saying that any lawyer acting under this initiative will strive to achieve what is the best result for the client in the circumstances.
Under no circumstances should an accused plead guilty because they feel pressured to do so; this program is no exception. No matter how good, or tempting an offer may be, an accused who is innocent of a crime should not plead guilty. A lawyer is ethically required to refuse assisting anyone with a guilty plea who expresses their factual innocence.
Should the client instruct the lawyer to plead guilty, the lawyer will require detailed, often written or recorded, voluntary, and informed instructions to do so and only after the individual has had the appropriate amount of time to consider their options.
These instructions will be confirmed by the Court on the record through a “plea inquiry” as set out by section 606(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada.
Again, not all resolutions under the program require a guilty plea (it is hoped that many charges are withdrawn with the proper guidance and negotiations). For those cases that cannot be resolved by way of withdraw or guilty plea, the matter will proceed to the next stage without the benefit of counsel.
In practical terms, a person with a certificate should expect the following from their lawyer:
- To treat the JCIMC client as they would as they would of any non-JCIMC client;
- To be available, responsive, and communicative with the client;
- To explain to the process, advise on the law, and advocate for their client to the best of their ability;
- To follow the client’s instructions on all matters, particularly on whether to plead guilty or not-guilty;
- To keep detailed and accurate dockets and notes of efforts, discussions, and proceedings;
- To have the highest duty of loyalty to the client, (not to the Court or Crown Attorney); and,
- To act ethically and in compliance with the Law Society of Ontario’s Rules of Professional Conduct.
The benefits of using the JCIMC program:
Without limiting the possibility of many other benefits, some advantages of using the JCIMC program include:
- Limited legal counsel and advocacy without any cost to participants;
- Obtaining the benefit of experienced and objective legal counsel’s advice;
- An experienced negotiator to strive towards your desired result;
- Strong incentives of the Court and Crown Attorney offices to resolve matters in ways they may otherwise not agree to under non-COVID times; and,
- No compromises on any of an accused’s rights.
What does the JCIMC program not cover?
The Judge-Led Intensive Case Management Court is focused on resolution; it is not focused on litigation.
Therefore, if resolution discussions through this program do not resolve matters, the accused will proceed to trial as they would in the regular course. At this point, the certificate issued to the lawyer and coverage of legal fees ends.
Once a JICMC certificate ends, the accused person proceeds to the next stage of proceedings. This may include further judicial pre-trials, pre-trial motions, or trial. At any stage in the criminal proceedings any person has the right to hire a lawyer. Those who participated in the JCIMC program can hire any lawyer you choose, including the lawyer who assisted you.
Fees for lawyers will vary and are at the discretion of individual lawyers. You can learn more of our fees (that would apply outside of JCIMC coverage) here.