Shelia's classification is Courts Administration, as The Manager of Court Operations for Niagara and that means Shelia is the Sheriff of Niagara and she said she cannot get us out of jury duty. When Shelia accepted the position in April 2004 after working 18 years in the mental health sector people told her that accepting the position made her the Sheriff. Shelia said no, how could that be the subject since it did not come up in the interview. Then to her surprise it was confirmed that yes bottom line Shelia was the Sheriff of Niagara.

 

There was some restructuring in the early 1990s, the sheriff's office was significantly changed and became the Enforcement Office. The Sheriff is no longer appointed and the previous role of sheriff is performed by a number of public servants who report to Sheriff. Shelia does not have a horse, a gun or ceremonial robes but does have a badge. With a court order the enforcement office posts writs, performs seizures and sales, evicts people from their homes and rarely conduct the sale of some ones home to satisfy a debt. Being the sheriff, makes for interesting discussions at cocktail parties.

 

One of the fundamental pillars of our democratic society is the justice system. The monument at Vimy Ridge and on top of the two statues is engraved peace and justice. At times citizens are called upon to perform jury duty. While under the judges direction staff may be able to defer your attendance to another time but not Sheriff Shelia. Just ask Keith Shaver who had the honour of being called for jury duty smack in the middle of tax season and curling season. Shelia cannot not get us out of jury duty but certainly can go out and bring people in for jury duty if she does not have enough panel members. She now knows a good bunch of people that hang out every Monday at noon at the St Catharines Golf and Country Club.

 

So what does Manager of Court Operations (MCO) do? On a day to day basis put out a lot of fires and truth be told start the odd fire.

There are two categories.

  1. Stakeholder  Relationship: The MCO has been identified as one the hubs of the court system. Working daily with the Judiciary, the Bar, the Crown Attorney, the Police and the Public putting out or creating these fires. Its probably the most important and delicate part of the job.
  2. Facility Management: There are three courthouses in Niagara 59 Church St, Robert S.K. Welch Courthouse, Welland at Cross and East Main and a satellite court in Fort Erie . The Welland Courthouse is a historically designated building with a small museum and is part of the Open Doors Niagara being held in October. At the Robert S.K. Welch Courthouse there has been a few changes including the installation of a perimeter security and the building of the remote testimony courtroom to assist vulnerable individuals testifying. In total there are 20 courtrooms in Niagara .
  3. Fiscal management: Shelia always remembers that it is the taxpayer's money that she is spending and that she must be carefull how it is spent.
  4. Staff Support: There are approximately 134 people working at the court houses reporters, clerks and registrars. The staff who serve clients at the counter and the management team. Shelia does work with OPSEU and said she is blessed to have a very knowledgeable and stable staff. She is also involved in the succession planning and knowledge management strategies. The senior staff who, are top of the aging boomer and are preparing to retire.

 

 

 The day to day operations is also Provincial Planning. An organization this large needs to plan and prepare for the future. Access to justice is priority for everyone on many fronts access for the disabled, public access, media access. Shelai is also the lead sheriff for Bramption, Hamilton , Halton, Cayrega, Brantford , Somcoe and Niagara .

 

All of these areas combined make for a busy day. The Core Compilances for MCO is directing, connecting, inspiring and transforming to bring all of these components together to ensure court operates on a daily level an operates into the future but only better.

 

Heidi Wilson thanked Shelia