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Rendering of accused by surety now done remotely at Nova Scotia court

Monday, April 06, 2020 @ 12:12 PM | By Terry Davidson

In what is yet another step to create social distancing, Nova Scotia’s provincial court is having those no longer wanting to be sureties for accused make that request electronically rather than inside a courtroom.

“Due to the ongoing situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Provincial Court has made changes to its processes for dealing with a surety who wishes to be relieved of their responsibility,” states a press release from the Nova Scotia Judiciary.

Communications director Jennifer Stairs confirmed that, until now, someone wanting to do this would have to appear in person before a judge and sign the necessary paperwork.

Now, it will all be done remotely.

Those sureties wanting out must complete a form (there is a link in the news release), which includes electronic signing instructions. The form must then be e-mailed to the courthouse where the original surety documents were signed. A link to e-mail addresses for the provincial courts is provided in the release.

Information needed to complete the form includes the name of the accused, their residence, the date the release order or recognizance was signed and the case number.  

Those unable to complete the form online should contact the relevant courthouse by phone and arrange a telephone appearance before a judge.

As a “last resort,” states the release, the paperwork can be signed in person at the court administration counter subsequent to the surety going through a pandemic-related screening.

“Those who pass the screening questions will be allowed into the courthouse and sent directly to the front counter,” states the release. “Court Administration staff can assist with completing the form. Those who do not pass will not be admitted and should make other arrangements.”

A warrant will be issued upon the acceptance of the application. But the news release stresses that the surety is not released from their responsibility until the accused has been arrested.

Stairs said each case is different as to why someone would no longer want to be a surety, including that they come to feel the responsibility is too much, or realize the accused is likely to breach their release conditions.