Judges of the Superior Court of Justice preside over a variety of matters including criminal prosecutions of indictable offences, summary conviction appeals from the Ontario Court of Justice, bail reviews, civil law suits (civil matters under $25,000 are heard by the Small Claims Court branch of the Superior Court of Justice), and family law disputes.
Judges in Canada are not elected as in some other jurisdictions. The Canadian government appoints the judges to the Superior Court. The appointment of judges by the federal government is a long-standing tradition which mirrors the practice under the British common law.
Masters and Case Management Masters in the Superior Court of Justice hear matters as determined by the Rules of Civil Procedure. Masters and Case Management Masters are judicial officers appointed by the provincial government.
In order to be considered as a candidate for judicial appointment, an individual must be a lawyer who has practised law for at least 10 years, is proficient in the law and has the personal qualities, professional skills and abilities and life experiences that are appropriate for an individual to undertake the role of a judge.
The federal Minister of Justice recommends candidates to the federal Cabinet for appointment as judges to the Superior Court of Justice. The Minister makes recommendations after receiving the advice of a Judicial Advisory Committee which has vetted all judicial candidates for the Superior Court. A similiar process is in place with respect to the appointment of Masters and Case Management Masters at the provincial level.
Once appointed to the Superior Court, a judge can remain in office until the mandatory retirement age of 75.
Complaints about federally appointed judges across Canada are investigated and dealt with by the Canadian Judicial Council. The Canadian Judicial Council has the authority to recommend to Parliament, through the Minister of Justice, that a judge be removed from office.
Judges of the Superior Court of Justice wear black gowns, white tabs, and a red sash. Judicial gowns are adorned with a badge, created by Canada's Chief Herald, which consists of the sun in splendour, representing the majesty of the law, as well as a red maple leaf, the scales of justice and a Royal Crown that rests on the sun’s upper rim.
If you are addressing a judge in the Superior Court of Justice, you should call the judge “Your Honour” or “Madam Justice (surname)” or “Mister Justice (surname)”. Also, when lawyers and court officials enter or leave a courtroom that has a presiding judge, they should bow to the judge as a sign of respect.
The administration of the courts is the responsibility of the Ontario government. The provincial government builds and maintains the courthouses and provides the staff to assist in the administration of justice.
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