New Crown attorneys, sheriff's officers added to justice system in N.L. budget

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New Crown attorneys, sheriff's officers added to justice system in N.L. budget

New Crown attorneys, sheriff's officers added to justice system in N.L. budget

Three Crown attorneys will be hired to deal with new trial timelines set out by a recent Supreme Court of Canada decision.

The Newfoundland and Labrador budget tabled Thursday contained $390,000 in new spending to bring the total number of Crown attorneys in the province to 51.

Justice and Public Safety Minister Andrew Parsons said it has not yet been determined where the new hires will be based.

R v Jordan sets out stricter timelines for provincial and supreme courts, and has resulted in some cases being thrown out in this province because of unnecessary trial delays.

About $370,000 will be spent on hiring three sheriff's officers for Happy Valley-Goose Bay and a court manager to oversee scheduling and administration.

Parsons said there is pressure on sheriff's officers because the practice of RCMP officers travelling to remote circuit courts is "no longer there."

New court complex

Money has also been set aside for further plans for a new penitentiary. 

The Tory government provided funding in its last budget to begin a plan and design for a replacement for Her Majesty's Penitentiary, sections of which date back to the 1800s.

Parsons said the province will also provide $500,000 to begin planning for the construction of a new court complex in St. John's.

The new building, which has no timeline for opening, would likely encompass provincial, family and supreme courts, as well as the sheriff's office.

In the meantime, the over 100-year-old Supreme Courthouse in St. John's will undergo renovations, with $195,000 earmarked in the budget for that work.

And $450,000 has been budgeted to address increasing demand at family court in St. John's.

Meanwhile, no money has been set aside for the creation of a serious incident response team that would investigate complaints against police.

Parsons said the first step will be making legislative change in the fall to allow for the province to have its own SIRT team. Now, the province relies on agencies outside the province to probe police forces.

Money was also announced for a liaison unit for families participating in the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, a feasibility study for a drug court, and a sexual assault support program which would provide legal support to victims.