Both Justices of the Peace and Judges are appointed by the provincial government and both provincial court Judges and Justices of the Peace compose the Ontario Court of Justice, one of Ontario’s two trial courts.
For a Judge to be considered for appointment, she must have been a lawyer for at least 10 years. Judges will hear criminal, youth, and family trials. When there is no jury, the Judge will serve as both Trier of Law and Trier of Fact. Only Judges preside in the Superior Court of Justice and in appellate courts.
Justices of the Peace do not have to be lawyers. They generally have 10 years of work experience and a degree or diploma. The appointment process for Justices of the Peace (JPs) is governed by the Justices of the Peace Act. They will hear Provincial Offences Act matters which includes offences under the Highway Traffic Act, Trespass to Property Act, and Liquor License Act, and bylaw infractions. They will also deal with many pre-trial criminal appearances such as remand court and bail hearings. Justices of the Peace can also run hearings under the Mental Health Act. They also have the power to sign search warrants.
In Ontario, a Judge will preside wearing a red sash. It is proper etiquette to refer to her as “Your Honour.” The Justice of the Peace will preside wearing a green sash. It is proper etiquette to call him “Your Worship.”
Both a Justice of the Peace and Judge must be and appear to be impartial. Any indication of bias would be in contravention with principles of procedural fairness. This means that neither can be too friendly with either counsel. Additionally, neither should allow their personal preferences, politics, or religion affect any decision that they make.
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