Har­bour Grace judge says lack of crown of­fice cost­ing court

The Compass - - Editorial - BY AN­DREW ROBINSON editor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

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.

COM­PASS FILE PHOTO

Judge Bruce Short.

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