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Lack of judges causing unacceptable waits for trials, lawyer says

Provincial court judges in Sydney are setting trial dates in 2010,raising concerns for the president of the Nova Scotia Barristers’Society.

Provincial court judges in Sydney are setting trial dates in 2010, raising concerns for the president of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society, who hopes the province will soon appoint the new judge that has been promised for the hectic court system.

Prominent criminal lawyer Joel Pink, president of the society, said after his last trip to Sydney in November for a court appearance, he wrote to Justice Minister Cecil Clarke about how far into the future trial dates are being scheduled.

“The times that they are now setting down are outside the acceptable limits set down by the Supreme Court of Canada,” he said. “I mean, they are over a year.”

Lawyers seeking earlier court dates may make applications under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms for trials within a reasonable time, he said.

“They are going to be successful, which will result in charges being thrown out of court,” he said.

“Everybody is entitled to a trial within a reasonable amount of time.”

There were 65 provincial court trials scheduled for 2010 on Tuesday, including some in April, in the Sydney-based court system.

The provincial government said last year it would appoint new provincial court judges for Sydney (which has three full-time and two visiting judges), Halifax and New Glasgow, and a family court judge for Kentville. A search committee recommended a short list of names on Aug. 5. New judges have been appointed for three of the areas but not yet for Sydney.

 
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