2.8 Contacts with the Courts
Public Prosecution Service of Canada Deskbook
Guideline of the Director Issued under Section 3(3)(c) of the Director of Public Prosecutions Act
March 1, 2014
Table of Contents
- 1. Introduction
- 2. Objective
- 3. Guidelines
- 3.1. Business or personal relationships with judges and judicial officers
- 3.2. Improper attempts to influence a judge or judicial officer
- 3.3. Communicating with judges or judicial officers in contested matters
- 3.4. Meetings in relation to administrative matters
- 3.5. Referral to the Chief Federal Prosecutors
The principle of judicial independence is a pillar of our justice system.Footnote 1 As a result, Crown counsel must be careful and sensitive when in contact with courts and judges. Counsel, moreover, must be aware of the implications of their unique functions and the concomitant importance of avoiding remarks that would give rise to a suggestion that they have attempted to influence improperly or pressure the judiciary. Most of the time, common sense and professional integrity will be a sufficient guide.
However, ambiguous and complex situations arise. When this occurs, it may be necessary to refer the matter to the Chief Federal Prosecutor (CFP) who will ensure that proper action, if any, is taken, including referring the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
The purpose of this guideline is to help Public Prosecutions Service of Canada (PPSC) officials avoid situations that could give the impression that the PPSC or its prosecutors are improperly attempting to influence or exert pressure on the courts or judges. While all lawyers must be sensitive to the propriety of their contacts with the courts and their relationship with the judiciary, and are expected to act in accordance with their law society codes of conduct, Crown counsel and other PPSC employees, as representatives of the DPP, are in a unique position that requires particular caution in their dealings with the courts.
3.1. Business or personal relationships with judges and judicial officers
Crown counsel shall not appear before a judge or judicial officer when he or she has a business or personal relationship with that person that might reasonably be perceived to affect the impartiality of Crown counsel, the judge or the officer.
3.2. Improper attempts to influence a judge or judicial officer
Crown counsel shall not attempt, or knowingly allow anyone else to attempt, to influence the decisions or actions of a judge or judicial officer, directly or indirectly, except by legitimate means of open persuasion as an advocate.
3.3. Communicating with judges or judicial officers in contested matters
Crown counsel shall not communicate, directly or indirectly, with a judge or any judicial officer except
- in open court;
- with the consent of, or in the presence of, the other parties or their respective counsel;
- in writing, provided a copy is given at the same time to the other parties or their respective counsel; or
- in ex parte matters, as permitted by law.
3.4. Meetings in relation to administrative matters
In discussing with judges, judicial officers, and other court officials matters of government policy that could affect the administration of the courts, Crown counsel shall conduct themselves so as to avoid any possible suggestion that they are improperly attempting to influence or exert pressure on the courts or individual judges in the exercise of their judicial functions.
3.5. Referral to the Chief Federal Prosecutors
Where there is doubt about whether a particular contact or action involving a judge or judicial officer is appropriate, counsel shall consult with the CFP.
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