A citizen complained to the Ombudsman de Montréal as he was not satisfied with the quality of the “investigation” made by Cour municipale de Montréal, following his not guilty plea. He submitted that, as a result, he had to go to court to submit his evidence once more, which lead to his acquittal from the parking offence he had been charged with.

According to the citizen, the facts were clear and if the “investigation” done by Cour municipale de Montréal had been thorough, he would not have had to waste his time to go to court.

Our investigation revealed, however, that the procedure the citizen was referring to is not an “investigation” in the usual sense of the word, but only a basic administrative verification of the information already in the City’s files. Such verification can lead to a recommendation to pursue or to drop the charge, but not to an acquittal: only the Court has that power.

During the said “verification”, the court’s employees must rely on the information found in the municipal records and they cannot verify whether or not the said information is complete or up-to date; they do not go on site nor do they interrogate any person.

In the present case, the parking prohibition which the citizen had been accused of violating had recently been abolished but, unfortunately, this change had not yet been registered in the City’s records. At the time of the internal “investigation”, therefore, the Cour municipale de Montréal employee could not confirm if the information submitted by the citizen was true, which is why he recommended that the charges be maintained.

The Ombudsman de Montréal made her intervention on the basis of section 16 a) of the Montréal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities in which the City commits to provide citizens useful and clearly formulated information.

She made the Cour municipale de Montréal aware of the confusion caused by use of the word “investigation” in their documents to the defendants. The Cour municipale de Montréal accepted our comments and modified accordingly its documents.

  • The title of the documents previously named “Investigation Response” was changed to “Notice to continue proceedings” or “Notice of withdrawal”, as the case may be. Moreover, in the body of the texts, the term “investigation” has been replaced by “administrative verification”.
  • In the body of the text, the word “investigation” has been replaced by the expression “administrative verification”.

Thanks to these changes, citizens will no longer be led to believe that Cour municipale de Montréal is conducting a thorough investigation of the explanations they may submit, in support of their plea.

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