Government will spend millions to beef up court system

James McLeod
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New funding reverses justice cuts from last year

Justice Minister Darin King released a pair of independent reports to the media this morning, and announced $13.5 million to fix problems in the Legal Aid Commisssion and the Sheriff’s Office.

— Photo by James Mcleod

On the Sherrif’s Office side, especially, the independent review found significant problems — morale is low, there aren’t enough sheriff’s officers, the chain of command is incomplete and security needs to be improved.

On the Legal Aid Commission side, lawyer John Roil recommended changes to the management structure and some of the legislation around legal aid, but didn’t specifically recommend more funding or extra lawyers.

Roil found that the workload at the Legal and that there’s a total  misconception that lawyers there are less qualified than private practice. In fact, he recommended that the government change legislation to limit the ability of people to seek private lawyers at Legal Aid rates, because it creates the false impression that legal aid lawyers aren’t good enough.

The two reports released today grew out of widespread outcry within the legal community last spring; the provincial government delivered deep cuts in the 2013 budget, and King ordered the reviews to determine whether the cuts had been too deep.

Many of the recommendations in the two reports focus on improving the management structures and streamlining work processes, but with the Sheriff’s Office especially, retired RCMP Insp. Leigh DesRoches concluded that the system needs more people.

In total, he calls for 20 more people in the system. Current court security staff has a total of 76 people — 52 permanent, 12 unfunded long-term temporary and 12 on-call workers. DesRoches says that to properly staff the system, they need 85 permanent workers and 11 on-call people.

DesRoches also did a separate security risk assessment, with specific recommendations for the government, but that report is being kept secret due to security concerns.

King announced that the government has accepted all of the recommendations from both reports.

Organizations: Legal Aid Commission, RCMP

Geographic location: Sherrif

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Recent comments

  • Mike
    March 25, 2014 - 00:08

    So, we have additional money and positions for policing, more money and positions for legal aid and courtroom security (all of which was needed), but you still haven't addressed the prosecution service staff shortages. Since we know King and Collins know nothing about the portfolio, maybe the DPP could speak up....oh no, that would reduce the likelihood of him getting appointed to the bench. Wouldn't want doing your job to get in the way of personal aspirations!

  • Yo mama
    March 24, 2014 - 18:10

    We don't need the court system "beefed up", we need judges with balls.

  • Crazy
    March 24, 2014 - 16:06

    @ Happily Retired, You sound like your mad at the world. I guess your one of those people. who would like to have everything in your back pocket, and the hell with the rest of us. Maybe your also the type who slap a chid a cross the lips to get your owns way If your happy retired, why do you sound like sour grapes. If anyone is petty it you,

    • Happily Retired
      March 25, 2014 - 07:39

      Crazy, Read your own idiotic posts, and please don't bring up violence against children. The fact that you'd go there says a lot about you, and it's not good. Maybe some counselling is in store for somebody who labels himself as "crazy" and who sees hitting children as an option.

    • Happily Retired
      March 25, 2014 - 07:49

      Crazy, Read your own idiotic posts before you judge somebody else, and please don't bring up violence against children. The fact that you see this as an option is a disturbing, negative reflection of yourself. Anybody who refers to himself as "Crazy" and who throws the option of hitting children into any kind of discussion should probably seek counselling.

  • Happily Retired
    March 24, 2014 - 15:13

    The chronic whiners from Corner Brook are at it again. It's amazing how they'll turn an article about the justice system into a plea for their hospital. Don't worry, you'll get your hospital, even though a better location would be Grand Falls or Gander However, governments can't make sound decisions when it comes to Corner Brook, look at the money going into that sinkhole of a mill just to prop up a petty little town with petty little people. You're not the "second city" anymore, and you never will be.

  • Tony Rockel
    March 24, 2014 - 13:14

    How about dealing with all those habitual offenders who owe $20 -30,000 in unpaid fines?

  • Dolf
    March 24, 2014 - 11:25

    They might look at the number of cases that are "set over". "pre-sentencing hearings", "deals" between prosecution and defense where serious charges are dropped for the sake of a guilty plea. Things that really jam-up the courts.`

  • Linda
    March 24, 2014 - 10:23

    We have money for everything, But the health of the people on the west coast. WHERE THE HELL IS OUR HOSPITAL.

    • Townie
      March 24, 2014 - 12:34

      Don't worry we have it covered. Construction will start soon at the site of the old penitentiary as part of the justice overhaul and SJOIMBY* programme. *Sin Jawns ONLY In My Back Yard

    • Townie
      March 24, 2014 - 12:35

      Don't worry we have it covered. Construction will start soon at the site of the old penitentiary as part of the justice overhaul and SJOIMBY* programme. *Sin Jawns ONLY In My Back Yard

    • Bert
      March 24, 2014 - 13:34

      Maybe if Frank Coleman gets the premiership you will get your hospital. He said a new hospital is needed in Corner Brook now .Surely he wouldn't start out by delaying this project. Not sure what the other leader's position is with regard to the time frame.

  • Mom
    March 24, 2014 - 10:02

    You might want to send in a resume to legal aid again. Perhaps there might be some money.