In-custody trials to resume next month
Some trials and preliminary inquiries in provincial court for people who are in custody will resume beginning June 1, providing public health directives on COVID-19 can be followed.
A news release from the Nova Scotia judiciary Thursday said the chief justices and chief judge met last week with public health officials to discuss when it might be safe for the courts to start returning to normal operations.
“Any expansion of court services will be gradual and must consider the ongoing public health directives related to social distancing, disinfecting procedures, good hand hygiene and other precautions to protect the health and safety of those working in and attending the courthouses,” the release said.
The provincial court, when rescheduling cases, will give priority to in-custody trials and preliminary inquiries. New cases and matters previously adjourned until June and July will be heard by telephone.
“For in-custody trials and preliminary inquiries, the judge will hold a pre-trial hearing with counsel to determine whether the necessary precautions can be put in place to proceed safely,” the release said.
“Whether the matter can proceed will depend on several factors, including its urgency, its complexity, the number of people involved, the size and layout of the courtroom where the matter will be heard, and staffing.”
Bail hearings and peace bond hearings in provincial court will continue to be heard virtually by telephone and video conferencing. All trials and preliminary hearings where the accused individual is not in custody will be adjourned to a later date.
“The resolution of nonurgent matters remains a priority for the provincial court,' the notice said. “Counsel are encouraged to continue reviewing their matters to see what can be resolved without an in-person hearing.”