Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ontario Judges Balk at Bill 133 Investigation Duty

The Globe and Mail reports that Ontario's family court judges are not happy with the new, investigative duties assigned to them by Ontario's proposed Bill 133 in child custody applications by non-parents:

A confrontation is brewing between family court judges and the Ontario government over a scheme aimed at preventing a repeat of the shocking death of a Toronto child last year.

The plan would require judges to play the improper role of "investigators" in child-custody applications launched by non-parents, a group of 12 judges said in a submission to a committee of MPPs studying the proposed legislation, Bill 133.

...The judges condemned the new provisions as "an unwieldy and intrusive scheme" that will force judges to assemble a welter of evidence involving prior child protection proceedings, family law proceedings and criminal record checks.

"It is improper for judges to assume this role," they said. "A court is not equipped to administer a scheme of this nature, nor are judges equipped to conduct the kind of investigations contemplated. We are convinced Bill 133 does not provide a workable system."

"In a system that is critically under-populated by lawyers, the task of judges becomes more difficult," they said.

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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