It may seem that courts are slow to change – after all, judges wearing robes still sit at big desks at the front of our courtrooms and apply legal principles, some of which date back hundreds of years. But retired judges in BC have seen huge changes in the Provincial Court and its work over the last 45 years.
In 2012 lawyer Geoffrey Cowper QC investigated BC’s criminal justice system. As chair of the province’s Justice Reform Initiative he made recommendations for improving the system. This fall he prepared an update on the progress made in the last four years. Where do things stand today? Has there been improvement in BC’s criminal justice system?
Mr. Cowper thinks so.
Vancouver’s downtown eastside is an area is known for open drug use, aggressive panhandling, and a host of other disorderly behaviour. The number of people with addictions and mental illness is visible to any passerby.
In a December 18, 2016 opinion piece in the Vancouver Sun, BC’s Chief Justice Robert Bauman described a typical day in the life of a judge. While he wrote about the work of judges in BC’s Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, his comments apply to Provincial Court judges as well. Here’s what the Chief Justice said:
BC Provincial Court judges have a history of producing and sharing practical resources to help trial judges achieve the excellence that is one of our court’s core values. Under the auspices of the BC Provincial Court Judges Association, volunteer judges have created and maintained two aids that proved so valuable they are being used by judges and others across Canada.