HALIFAX: Nova Scotia is working to improve efficiency and reduce backlogs and delays in the provincial court by providing the resources to set up Nova Scotia’s first bail court.
The new bail court will be established in Halifax Regional Municipality and will be able to hear cases from across the province virtually.
“Reducing the backlog and keeping our courts running efficiently is a high priority for the Department, the judiciary and our partners,” said Brad Johns, Attorney General and Minister of Justice.
“Moving bail to a specialized court will help streamline matters heard in other courtrooms and enable more trials to be held sooner, reducing the possibility of cases being dismissed without a trial.”
“We will continue to look for innovative ways to improve our justice system, like this first-ever dedicated bail court, and ensure all Nova Scotians have access to justice,” said Johns.
Eight new Justice Department positions will be dedicated to operating the bail court and four additional presiding justices of the peace will be appointed.
“Nova Scotia is long overdue for a bail court. It is not uncommon to have dozens of accused individuals in custody every day.
These can be lengthy contested matters; having dedicated resources for bail hearings is a more efficient and effective approach that will have a positive impact on all areas of the criminal justice system.”
— Perry F. Borden, Chief Judge of the Provincial Court of Nova Scotia
– bail is used when a person is charged with a crime and, rather than being held in custody while awaiting trial, is released under certain conditions imposed by the court
– there will be more feasibility and design planning before the location and opening date of the bail court are determined- operating costs, including salaries, are forecasted to be $1.75 million in 2024-25
– to support an increase in casework, Nova Scotia Legal Aid will receive an annual grant of $227,000 to hire a new staff lawyer and court support worker- Section 11(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms sets out that any person charged with an offence has the right to be tried within a reasonable time; the Supreme Court of Canada, in the 2016 Jordan decision, set these timelines at 18 months in provincial court and 30 months in Supreme Court.