News Release Archive

The role of the Crown attorney is to seek justice by prosecuting
offences competently with fairness and equal treatment for all

To this end, the director of Public Prosecutions, Jerry Pitzul,
would like to inform the public of:

- the process followed by Crown attorneys when prosecuting
  criminal cases; and

- the limitations on Crown attorneys making public comment while
  matters are under investigation or before the courts.

The process in Nova Scotia: The police set the wheels of the
justice system in motion with the laying of charges. They can ask
for pre-charge advice but are not obligated to do so and are not
obligated to follow it once received.

Investigations can be but are not necessarily complete at the
time of the laying of charges. The decision as to what charge and
when it is to be laid is, in Nova Scotia, the decision of the
police. Once a charge is laid, it is the role of the Crown
attorney to determine on a continuous basis the reasonable chance
of conviction in respect of the charge laid.

In making this assessment, direction can be given to police by
Crown attorneys to investigate further and to await the results.
In other circumstances the investigation can be complete but
legal research, consultations, or requests by the defence must be
conducted, awaited, or answered before a decision to proceed or
not to proceed can be made.

Crown attorneys are guided in this process by a directive that
requires them only to proceed where there is a reasonable chance
of conviction and the public interest is best served by a
prosecution. The nature and complexity of a given set of
circumstances in any given case will dictate the length of this
process. Once the appropriate assessment is complete the case may
or may not proceed to court.

To be fair to the accused who is presumed innocent until proven
guilty, to any complainant who may be the victim of a crime, to
the police who have carried out their responsibilities, and to
the public, Crown attorneys must refrain from out of court public
statements dealing with the facts of a case.

This responsibility to protect the integrity of the
administration of justice precludes Crown attorneys and the
Public Prosecution Service from responding to public comment
whether that comment is favourable, critical, warranted or
unwarranted, and personal or general.


Contact: John Whidden 

trp                       June 23, 1997 - 12:20 p.m.