News release

New System for Justices of the Peace

Changes are coming to Nova Scotia's justice system.

Justice Minister Michael Baker announced today that a new justice of the peace centre, to be located in Dartmouth, will provide services across the province 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It will transform the way justices of the peace do their jobs.

Ten lawyers will work in the new centre. All will report to the chief judge of the Provincial Court. The justices of the peace will be responsible for issuing search warrants and warrants for arrest, conducting bail hearings, and fulfilling other duties directed by the chief judge.

The changes mean that Nova Scotia will comply with numerous court decisions that underscored the need for independent justices of the peace to perform judicial duties.

"This is a major step forward," said Mr. Baker. "Our new system provides for 24-hour access and the ability to hold bail hearings on weekends."

Current justices of the peace will still be able to swear affidavits and perform civil wedding ceremonies for a fee. Further training will be provided for those who wish to continue performing these duties.

Staff members who now serve as justices of the peace will be restricted to performing non-judicial functions.

"The courts were very clear," said Mr. Baker. "The independence of JPs must be protected if they're performing judicial functions. Otherwise, the integrity of the justice system could be compromised."

The new centralized justice of the peace centre should be operational in the spring of 2002.

A committee representing various components of the justice system recommended the changes. It is expected the 10 justices of the peace will be hired in the new year. Each justice of the peace will be required to work a combination of eight- and four-hour shifts. They will be paid $345 and $172.50 per shift respectively. Some on-call work will be required, and justices of the peace will receive $172.50 for a 12-hour on-call shift.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

Changes are coming to Nova Scotia's justice system. Justice Minister Michael Baker announced today that a new justice of the peace centre, to be located in Dartmouth, will provide services across the province 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It will transform the way justices of the peace do their jobs.

Ten justices of the peace who have received legal training will work in the new centre. All will report to the chief judge of the Provincial Court.

The justices of the peace will be responsible for issuing search warrants and warrants for arrest, conducting bail hearings, and fulfilling other duties directed by the chief judge.

The changes mean that Nova Scotia will comply with numerous court decisions that underscored the need for independent justices of the peace to perform judicial duties.

The new centralized justice of the peace centre should be in operation by spring 2002.

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Contact:

Michele McKinnon
Department of Justice 902-424-6811 E-mail
kjd            November 15, 2001        9:01 A.M.