section 474(1)

INTRODUCTION AND BRIEF DESCRIPTION

This section allows the court clerk to adjourn the court if a panel of jurors is not summoned for a term or sittings of the court.

SECTION WORDING

474(1) Where the competent authority has determined that a panel of jurors is not to be summoned for a term or sittings of the court for the trial of criminal cases in any territorial division, the clerk of the court may, on the day of the opening of the term or sittings, if a judge is not present to preside over the court, adjourn the court and the business of the court to a subsequent day.

EXPLANATION

Section 474(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada provides a mechanism for the court to adjourn the trial of criminal cases in a territorial division where the competent authority has determined that a panel of jurors will not be summoned. The term "competent authority" refers to the entity responsible for organizing and overseeing the administration of justice in the territory, which could be the provincial or territorial government, a court system, or another relevant judicial body. If the competent authority determines that a panel of jurors is not required, the clerk of the court can adjourn the court and its business to a later date if no judge is present to preside over the court. This provision is especially relevant in cases where there is no need for a panel of jurors, such as in relatively minor criminal cases or in territorial divisions with low volumes of criminal cases that do not justify summoning a panel of jurors. The use of this provision also serves the overall goals of the Canadian criminal justice system by preventing unnecessary delays and ensuring that judicial resources are used efficiently. Additionally, adjourning the court proceedings and rescheduling the business of the court to a subsequent date ensures that the trial occurs under appropriate circumstances and before a competent and impartial judge that can uphold the integrity of the judicial process. Overall, Section 474(1) plays an important role in the Canadian criminal justice system by providing flexibility in the scheduling of criminal trials and helping to ensure that judicial resources are used efficiently.

COMMENTARY

Section 474(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada provides for the adjournment of a court in a particular territorial division in which a panel of jurors is not to be summoned for a term or sittings of the court. The competent authority determines the need for such a panel, and in its absence, the clerk of the court may adjourn the court's business if a judge is not present to preside over the proceedings. This provision ensures that the trial of criminal cases takes place only when a panel of jurors is available in the territorial division. The panel of jurors plays a crucial role in the trial process as they are responsible for deciding the facts of the case and accordingly deliver the verdict. The provision acknowledges the importance of a fair trial, which is an essential feature of the administration of justice. The provision also recognizes the need for judicial efficiency by not having a judge present when the court is adjourned. The presence of a judge in a court is mandatory and significant as they are responsible for preserving the impartiality of the proceedings. However, in the absence of a panel of jurors, the presence of a judge alone cannot ensure a fair trial as they have limited capacity to decide the facts of the case solely on their competence. Additionally, the provision is essential in ensuring that the right to a speedy trial is upheld. The right to a speedy trial is a fundamental constitutional right and essential in maintaining public confidence in the justice system. However, the right to a speedy trial is not absolute and must be balanced with other interests, such as the right to a fair trial. Adjournments of court proceedings when a panel of jurors is unavailable may, therefore, be necessary to ensure that the accused receives a fair trial. The provision also highlights the importance of the clerk of the court in ensuring that court proceedings are conducted in an orderly and efficient manner. The clerk of the court is central to the administration of justice, and their role includes arranging and managing the courtroom so that it is suitable for the proceedings. In the absence of a judge, the clerk of the court has significant responsibility, such as adjourning the court's business if no panel of jurors is available. In conclusion, Section 474(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada is an essential provision in ensuring that the rights of the accused are upheld and that the administration of justice is conducted efficiently and fairly. The provision acknowledges the role of the panel of jurors, the importance of a fair trial, the need for judicial efficiency, and the responsibilities of the clerk of the court. It is an excellent example of how the criminal justice system in Canada is designed to protect the rights of the accused and the integrity of the administration of justice.

STRATEGY

Section 474(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada gives the clerk of the court the authority to adjourn the court and its business if a panel of jurors is not to be summoned for a term or sittings of the court for the trial of criminal cases in any territorial division. This section provides strategic considerations for both the prosecution and defense counsel when dealing with court proceedings. One strategic consideration when dealing with section 474(1) is the timing of the application to the court. It is essential to ensure that the application is made in a timely manner. If it is made too late, the court may have already been convened, and it may be difficult to adjourn it. On the other hand, if it is made too early, it may cause unnecessary delays and inconvenience to all parties involved. Another strategic consideration is the reason why a panel of jurors is not summoned. If it is a temporary circumstance, such as in the case of a strike by the jury pool, then it may be feasible to adjourn the court proceedings for a short period until the situation is resolved. However, if the reason is more permanent, such as a reduction in the number of jury trials in a particular territorial division, then it may be necessary to find alternative solutions, such as using video conferencing technology or assigning a jury from a neighboring jurisdiction. Strategies that could be employed when dealing with section 474(1) include: 1. Negotiating with the other party: In situations where both the prosecution and defense counsel agree that section 474(1) should be used, negotiations could be made to reach a consensus on the best time and duration for the adjournment. 2. Seeking an alternative solution: If adjournment is not a feasible option, considering alternative solutions such as a change of venue, or the use of technology, could be explored. 3. Adequate preparation: For defense counsel, it is essential to use the time during the adjournment to better prepare for the case. This includes reviewing evidence, consulting with witnesses, and exploring legal arguments. 4. Strategic planning: For the prosecutor, it is essential to plan strategically during the adjournment period. This includes reviewing the case and identifying possible weaknesses in the defense arguments, consulting with witnesses, and examining the existing evidence. In conclusion, while section 474(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada provides the clerk of the court with the authority to adjourn court proceedings, it also presents strategic considerations for both the prosecution and defense counsel. By considering the timing of the application, the reason why a panel of jurors is not summoned, and exploring alternative solutions, the parties can ensure that the adjournment period is used effectively and efficiently.