News details

Connection







Lost password?

Latest news

Ford opposes handgun ban as he pledges funds to fight gun violence

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he opposes a handgun ban in Toronto because it would penalize legal gun owners, but vowed to help tackle gun violence in the city by pledging $25-million over four years for police and the courts.

[ ...More ]
Publication date : 2018-08-09
‘Pressure points’: Five new provincial court judges hired to help ease backlogs

The province named five judges in northern and central Alberta Tuesday in a move aimed at helping to relieve strain on the court system, says Alberta’s justice minister.

[ ...More ]
Publication date : 2018-07-31
Long waits for RCMP firearms forensics putting prosecutions at risk

Staffing shortages saw routine firearms analysis requests take an average of 238 days in 2017-18

[ ...More ]
Publication date : 2018-07-26
Federal lawyers’ union says low pay contributing to ‘crisis’ in hiring, retention, court delays

The union leader representing 2,600 federal government lawyers says Ottawa’s persistent failure to pay competitive compensation is contributing to lacklustre lawyer recruitment, and severe staff shortages in major cities across the country — as well as to court delays and criminal charges being stayed for violating the Supreme Court’s speedy trial deadlines.

[ ...More ]
Publication date : 2018-04-26
NDP’s rural crime fighting plan gets mixed reviews

The NDP’s $10-million plan to combat rural crime with new RCMP officers, more Crown prosecutors and improved intelligence gathering is getting mixed reviews from a rural county reeve, a lawyers’ group and an opposition politician. 

[ ...More ]
Publication date : 2018-03-12
Why hiring more judges won’t necessarily speed up the justice system

The under-resourcing of the backlogged criminal justice system has become a courtroom battle cry in Ontario, with some judges routinely calling on the government to loosen the purse strings so more of them can be hired.

[ ...More ]
Publication date : 2018-03-09


<-- Back to archived news

No quick fix for Nova Scotia’s slow court system

24-11-2016

Rick Woodburn is a Crown prosecutor in Halifax and president of the Canadian Association of Crown Counsel. (CBC)

 

The planned expansion of a program that diverts people accused of minor crimes from Nova Scotia's courtrooms will not fix long delays in an overburdened system, according to a Crown prosecutor in Halifax.

 

It's the growing number of major crimes like murder and weapons offences that slow the system down, not minor offences usually covered by the restorative justice program, said Rick Woodburn, president of the Canadian Association of Crown Counsel. The group represents the interests of Crown prosecutors and Crown civil lawyers across the country.

 

"They'll tote quick fixes, but ultimately we need the resources to make this thing work," Woodburn told CBC's Information Morning. 

 

"It's just a numbers game. If you have five cases and one judge, he can't hear all of them."

 

Restorative justice is a way of diverting people not charged with serious, violent or sexual crimes from the court system. It typically involves young offenders and victims reconciling their differences through face-to-face meetings or coming together as a group.

 

Earlier this week, Justice Minister Diana Whalen said she was optimistic that expanding the program to include adults would keep some cases away from the court and relieve some of the pressure to get cases heard more quickly.

 

Serious crimes on the rise

 

Woodburn said that's not a fix. He said more time and effort are needed to address the rising number of major crimes.

 

In 2014-15, the Crown in Halifax prosecuted 24 homicides, 54 attempted murders and nearly 2,000 weapons charges. That's up from zero homicides, 14 attempted murders and about 1,000 weapons charges in 2006-07, said Woodburn.

 

"We just don't have the resources"

 

Along with the increase in serious crime, there's also a lot more evidence to sift through and more time being spent in court. 

 

At one time, a half-empty box of evidence sat on Woodburn's desk. Today there are six boxes of material for each homicide waiting to be examined. 

 

"There's more disclosure, electronic disclosure, expert reports that have to be gone through," he said.

 

"Impaired driving for example used to take a half day. They now take two days. Homicides that used to take two days or a week now take four to five weeks." 

 

Woodburn said the only way to solve the problem is to put more money into the justice system, hire more lawyers, court staff, judges and sheriffs. 

 

"Have they put money in? Yes. But have they put the money in to keep pace with the crimes that are being committed? No, they're not, it's clear. We just don't have the resources."   

 

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/restorative-justice-crown-prosecutor-halifax-1.3865364