News Release Archive

  Justice Minister Bill Gillis today announced two initiatives
  designed to improve the efficiency of the court system. A
  summary offences court will be created, and the adult
  diversion program will continue.
  The court will hear all virtually provincial summary offence
  matters in Halifax County, except matters prosecuted by the
  Public Prosecution Service. It will sit on week-nights in
  Halifax, Bedford and Dartmouth, and will be adjudicated by
  By removing summary offence cases from the Provincial Court
  docket, the Provincial Court will be able to handle criminal
  cases in a more timely manner, he said.
  Approximately 90 per cent of the summary offences occur
  under the Motor Vehicle Act (such as speeding cases), with
  approximately 3,000 summary conviction cases being heard in
  a six month period. It is estimated that the capacity of the
  Provincial Court in the metro area will increase by six
  court days per week.
  The Department of Justice has been working with the
  judiciary, policing agencies and the four municipal units in
  setting up this new service.
  "This change will free up judge and court room time, which
  means the more serious cases can be handled in a speedier
  manner," said Dr. Gillis. "We improve our efficiency,
  without the expense of hiring additional judges and support
  Lawyers will be hired to adjudicate, and will be recruited
  from the membership of the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society
  through advertising and interviews. Each adjudicator will be
  paid approximately $30.000 annually. The court is expected
  to be operational by April, 1996.
  The evening hour sittings will allow for the use of existing
  facilities in off-hours, offering a more convenient time for
  individuals who would normally be required to take time from
  work to attend court.
  "We feel this initiative will help to reduce the backlog in
  Provincial Court, and is truly a more effective use of
  resources," said Dr. Gillis.
  The minister also announced the continuation of the Adult
  Diversion Project. The pilot project which began earlier
  this year in Dartmouth and North Sydney has proven to be
  very successful. The project is an alternative to the
  traditional court process for individuals 18 years and older
  who commit minor offences. It will continue in those two
  Basically, the program diverts relatively minor cases from
  the criminal justice process after charges are laid, but
  prior to a court appearance. The case is referred by police
  to probation officers, who then determine what steps can be
  taken to resolve the matter.
  The process examines the needs of victims and offenders by
  using various community resources to peacefully and
  satisfactorily resolve the damage caused by the offence.
  This can include restitution, letters of apology, community
  service work or counselling, he said.
  "This gives both the offender and the victim an opportunity
  to resolve the problem in a fair and equitable manner," said
  Dr. Gillis. "We are looking at expanding the program, and
  feel these initiatives are important in improving court
  efficiency so that the more serious and violent cases can be
  dealt with in a timely fashion."
  Contact: Michele McKinnon  902-424-6811
  trp                         Dec. 13, 1995