What is a Coroner's Inquest?
In Ontario, a Coroner's Inquest is the public hearing conducted by a Coroner into the death of a person. Coroner's Inquests have a long legacy and tradition in our law and country. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the death in question, some Inquests are mandatory and other are not.
As opposed to a criminal trial, Inquests are not held to assign legal fault. They are conducted to determine the answers to the following five questions:
- Who was the deceased?
- How did the deceased come to their death?
- When did the deceased come to their death?
- Where did the deceased come to their death?
- By what means did the deceased come to their death?
How is a Coroner's Inquest different than a regular criminal trial?
There are many unique features of a Coroner's Inquest. They have their own procedures and rules of evidence that can be different than those in criminal court. While there are 12 jurors in a criminal trial, Inquests are held before 5 jurors. As opposed to a criminal trial, where disclosure of information only flows from the Crown to the Defence, there is often reciprocal disclosure between the parties in a Corner's Inquest.
Families of the deceased will be able to apply and obtain standing as parties before the Court with their own lawyer. They will also be able to call evidence and make submissions before the jury.
Prevention is a key objective of Coroner's Inquests. Based on the evidence, juries will offer recommendations in an attempt to prevent future deaths from happening in similar circumstances. While some recommendations are implemented, many continue to be ignored.
Coroner's Inquests are complex and emotional; we have the experience, skill and sensitivity to help. If you have a case where you wish to obtain standing and representation, please contact us at: (416) 924-5969.