Kaufman's Final Report Released
Nova Scotia's Public Prosecution Service has the potential to become a "showcase for the legal profession," says retired judge Fred Kaufman in his final report on the service.
Mr. Kaufman, who conducted a review of the service, released his findings today in a report that addresses independence and accountability and the day-to-day operations and business elements of the service.
On the matter of independence and accountability, Mr. Kaufman concluded that while the Public Prosecutions Act stresses the independence of the director of public prosecutions, it preserves the authority of the attorney general, who retains the ultimate control of prosecutions.
"That is as it should be, for the very essence of responsible government is that someone -- in this case the attorney general- is answerable to the House," Mr. Kaufman wrote.
He noted that the "disturbing malaise" that afflicted the service at the time of his interim report has eased, but that the Public Prosecution Service has not yet achieved the status of "a lively, successful and esteemed part of the justice system."
Recommendations contained in the 400-page report include:
- more open communication within the service
- a better process for promotions
- more funds for the continuing legal education of prosecutors
- compensation for time spent on preparation by per diem Crown attorneys
- regular and meaningful performance appraisals of all staff
- a more efficient complaints procedure
- immediate steps to prevent "Crown shopping" by police
To assist in his review, Mr. Kaufman engaged the services of Philip Stenning, an associate professor at the Centre of Criminology, University of Toronto, to examine the relationship between independence and accountability. A comprehensive management audit was conducted by the Halifax firm ATi Consulting Corp., whose findings, along with the extensive interviews conducted by Mr. Kaufman, provide the basis for the final report.
Mr. Kaufman also recommended that the director of public prosecutions be authorized to exceed the annual budget by five per cent, but only for extraordinary prosecutions, and that any such expenditure over budget be reviewed by a designated person within a specified time frame.
On the question of Crown attorney compensation, Mr. Kaufman endorsed ATi's recommendation of collective bargaining. However, Mr. Kaufman added that "other solutions are possible," and that "any agreement which might be reached between the parties would be preferable to an imposed regime."
During the course of the review, Mr. Kaufman concluded that a detailed analysis of the Westray prosecution was necessary. Halifax lawyers Duncan Beveridge and Patrick Duncan are conducting the Westray review and will report their findings to Mr. Kaufman, who will analyse them and add his comments. Their report, together with the comments, will be published when ready.
The report ended on a note of optimism. "Many good people work for the service," said Mr. Kaufman "With proper leadership, better organization, good supervision, continuing legal education, and technological improvements, the PPS can, in time, become a showcase for the legal profession, providing not only good and efficient service to the public, but also attractive career opportunities for young and competent lawyers."
NOTE: The report is available on the Internet at www.gov.ns.ca/just/review.htm .
arc June 09, 1999 11:03 a.m.