Harbour Grace judge says lack of crown office costing court
A provincial court judge considers the lack of a permanent Crown attorney’s office at the Harbour Grace courthouse costly to the justice system.
The issue came up last Wednesday in relation to consecutive appearances where either a lawyer or defendant was awaiting the evidence package for a case. Those contents are typically reviewed before a plea is entered.
In the first instance, the defendant told Judge Bruce Short she spoke with an official at the St. John’s office for the Crown the day before by phone and was told the Crown prosecutor in Harbour Grace would provide the evidence package to her in court Wednesday.
However, Crown lawyer Paul Thistle confirmed he did not have the package with him in court, suggesting it was likely back in his office. This was also the case when the next matter was called in court Wednesday.
Short was clear to indicate he did not fault Thistle for this, calling the problem more of a systemic issue resulting from the fact there is not a Crown office based in Harbour Grace. He said there are courts in Newfoundland and Labrador with only a fraction of the caseload his deals with that do have such an office and added Harbour Grace deserves treatment equal to those locations.
Short said delays linked to the lack of a local office for the Crown are costly and create unnecessary delays that add up over time. With the drive to St. John’s stretching past the twohour mark for some people living within the Harbour grace court’s jurisdiction, he added it’s unrealistic to expect people to travel to that office.
Short has been outspoken in the past about the Harbour Grace courthouse’s shortcomings, particularly with respect to the lack of holding cells and the need for a second courtroom.
Judge Bruce Short.