A judge’s primary function is to hear cases and administer justice under the law. Judges are also tasked with presiding over settlement conferences in civil and youth matters as well as management and facilitation conferences in criminal and penal matters.
Every day across Québec, some 100 courtrooms are open.
It is generally recognized that the number of open cases, the number of cases on a roll, and the number of hearing hours at a court of justice give a general—if incomplete—picture of the court’s activities. Yet, in addition to hearing courtroom cases, judges must also spend time keeping their professional knowledge up-to-date, deliberating on decisions to be handed down, and writing judgments.
Every year, the Court of Québec processes around 70,000 civil and 18,000 small claims cases. It also processes over 140,000 criminal and 135,000 penal cases (both provincial and federal). In youth matters, the case volume exceeds 75,000.
Each one of these cases may require multiple interventions by a judge. For example, nearly 700,000 criminal cases are entered on the rolls every year.
In addition, every year the municipal courts of Québec, which come under the responsibility of an assistant judge of the Court of Québec, process approximately 20,000 cases involving summary criminal offences, nearly 850,000 contested cases (i.e., where there is a trial), and 650,000 provincial and federal penal default cases (where the defendant fails to appear). Municipal by-law violations, including parking violations and violations listed in the Highway Safety Code, are included in this data.
In addition to hearing most penal cases, presiding justices of the peace hear approximately 40,000 applications for judicial authorization and preside over more than 7,000 appearances, primarily on weekends and holidays.
It is worth noting that, beyond their regular judicial duties, many judges get personally involved on various Court committees or with other organizations and, from time to time, take part in activities of interest to the Court, the judges, or citizens.