This page is intended to help journalists and members of the public access information they are entitled to under the law and the policies of the Nova Scotia Courts. Click on the headings below for more information on each topic:

GUIDELINES FOR MEDIA AND PUBLIC ACCESS TO THE NOVA SCOTIA COURTS >>

NOTICES TO THE MEDIA >>

USE OF ELECTRONIC DEVICES AND TECHNOLOGY IN THE COURTS >>

WEBCASTING & CAMERAS IN COURT >>

ACCESS TO SEARCH WARRANT LOGS IN PROVINCIAL COURT >>

MEDIA LIAISON COMMITTEE >>

COPIES OF AUDIO RECORDINGS OF COURT PROCEEDINGS >>

PUBLIC RELEASE OF COURT DECISIONS >>

PUBLICATION BANS >>

Any questions or suggestions relating to this page or the documents listed below should be sent to Jennifer Stairs, Director of Communications for the Nova Scotia Judiciary. EMAIL THE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR >>

 


CLICK HERE >>
TO WATCH THE ARCHIVED VIDEOS FROM THE
MEDIA & THE LAW CONFERENCE

 

Guidelines for Media And Public Access to the Nova Scotia Courts

The Nova Scotia Courts have a working group called the Media Liaison Committee to deal with issues of media and public access to the Courts. The Committee includes journalists, media lawyers, journalism professors and a Judge from each of the five Courts.

Among other responsibilities, the Media Liaison Committee looks after updating the Guidelines for Media and Public Access to the Nova Scotia Courts.

This is a comprehensive guide outlining access to the Courts and court documents, restrictions on access, decorum in the courtroom, policies for the use of cameras in courtrooms and courthouses, publication bans, and designated media areas at the courthouses.

The original version of the guidelines was developed by in 1992 and has been revised on several occasions since. The most recent version went into effect on April 1, 2019.

Click on the link below to view an interactive PDF of the guidelines and related policies for media and public access. In the table of contents, simply click on a heading and it will connect you to that section within the document


Notices to the Media

Sept. 9   CHANGES TO COURTROOM 502 AT THE LAW COURTS >>
Aug. 22   SWEARING-IN FOR NEW SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE >>
July 25   CHANGES TO THE NOVA SCOTIA COURTS’ RECENT DECISIONS PAGE >>
July 10   CHANGES TO THE MEDIA ROOM AT PROVINCIAL COURT IN HALIFAX >>
    REVISED FLOOR PLAN FOR HALIFAX PROVINCIAL COURT >>
June 17   ROBING CEREMONY FOR NEW JUDGE >>
May 9   ROBING CEREMONY FOR NEW CHIEF JUSTICE >>

 

Use of Electronic Devices and Technology in the Courts

The Courts of Nova Scotia, in consultation with representatives of the media, have developed a policy regarding the use of electronic devices inside courthouses and courtrooms. The policy includes media use of smartphones and other similar technology to share information about court proceedings on social media platforms, primarily Twitter.

There is one general policy outlining the use of electronic devices in most Nova Scotia Courts. Due to heightened restrictions in some Courts, there are separate policies for use of electronic devices and Twitter in the Family Court, Youth Court, and the Mental Health Court Program. Click on the links below to view the full policies for each. These policies are also inlcluded as Appendix E in the Media Access Guidelines.

USE OF ELECTRONIC DEVICES IN MOST NOVA SCOTIA COURTS >>
USE OF ELECTRONIC DEVICES IN FAMILY COURT >>
USE OF ELECTRONIC DEVICES IN YOUTH COURT & MENTAL HEALTH COURT >>

Webcasting and Cameras in Court

The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal has simplified the process to request the use of cameras in its courtrooms. The new protocol went into effect on Oct. 8, 2014.

PLEASE NOTE: The Executive Office requires at least 14 days' notice to request a camera in court. This allows time to consult with the judge(s) and parties involved, and if approved, to ensure the webcasting equipment is working and the resources are in place to produce the webcast.

WEBCASTING & THE USE OF CAMERAS DURING COURT PROCEEDINGS >>

Access to Search Warrant Logs In Provincial Court

Search warrants (and information about them) are not accessible when:

~
they have not yet been executed or were unsuccessfully executed (did not result in property being seized or charges being laid)
~
they were sealed by a Judge or Justice of the Peace when issued to Police (neither the affidavit seeking the Order, nor information about them)
~
a Report to a Justice regarding the warrant has not been filed
~
they are part of a Youth Criminal Justice Act matter
   

Each Provincial Court in the province keeps a search warrant log and a separate binder, which contains copies of the log sheets for search warrants (executed warrants on which reports to a Justice have been made and which are not sealed). When sealed warrants are unsealed, they will be added to these lists. These lists are available for viewing by the public and the media on request..

Media Liaison Committee

The Nova Scotia Judiciary has a Media Liaison Committee which is composed of Judges from each of the five Nova Scotia Courts, the Director of Communications for the Judiciary, a representative from the Nova Scotia Department of Justice, a journalism professor, a media lawyer, and representatives of the Nova Scotia media. This Committee meets regularly to discuss issues of mutual concern. Reporters should feel free to contact their representatives on the committee to suggest matters for the Committee’s agenda.

Current Membership

  • The Hon. Jill Hamilton, Justice of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal
  • The Hon. Robert Wright, Justice of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia
  • The Hon. Robert Gregan, Justice of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia (Family Division)
  • The Hon. Daniel MacRury, Judge of the Provincial Court of Nova Scotia
  • The Hon. Corrine Sparks, Judge of the Family Court of Nova Scotia
  • Jennifer Stairs, Director of Communications, Nova Scotia Judiciary
  • Sheila O'Hara, Acting Court Administrator, Halifax Law Courts
  • Blair Rhodes, CBC News
  • Richard Dooley, Global News
  • Steve Bruce, The Chronicle Herald
  • Steve MacInnis, Saltwire Media
  • Nancy Rubin, Q.C., Stewart McKelvey
  • Terra Tailleur, University of King's College - School of Journalism

For more information about the Media Liaison Committee, please contact Jennifer Stairs, Director of Communications for the Nova Scotia Judiciary, at (902)424-6018 or stairsjl@courts.ns.ca.

READ THE TERMS OF REFERENCE FOR THE COMMITTEE >>

Copies of Audio Recordings of Court Proceedings

The Courts provide copies of the audio recordings of Court proceedings on CDs. No text transcripts are made available. However, there are several certified commercial transcription services in the Province that can produce transcripts from the audio recordings.

To order a copy of the audio recordings of certain Court proceedings which, by law, are part of the Courts' public record, you must fill out and file a form with the appropriate Court:

FILL OUT THE FORM ON YOUR COMPUTER >>

Print the completed form, sign it, and fax or deliver it to the courthouse in which the case was heard.

PRINT AND FILL OUT THE FORM MANUALLY >>

Sign the completed form and fax or deliver it to the courthouse in which the case was heard.

CONTACT INFORMATION FOR ALL NOVA SCOTIA COURTHOUSE LOCATIONS >>

Public Release of Court Decisions

The Nova Scotia Courts recognize that for citizens to have confidence in the Judiciary and the justice system, judges’ decisions need to be available to the public, including the media.

Just like most court files, court decisions are publicly accessible in Nova Scotia. The Courts self-publish most written decisions and post them in a SEARCHABLE DATABASE >> on the Courts’ website. The Courts also offer a daily decision release email service. To subscribe, visit the Searchable Database and click on “Mailing list” at the bottom of the page.

The searchable database is not a complete collection of all of the decisions released by the Nova Scotia Courts. It currently contains most of the decisions published since 2003. The Court of Appeal collection is the most complete. Many decisions are oral decisions and never released.

 



 
 
 

The Nova Scotia Courts also provide daily notices of decisions via Twitter.

Publication Bans

The Courts of Nova Scotia maintain a free e-mail subscription service to advise the media of applications made to the Courts for publication bans and other similar Court orders. Subscribers receive an e-mail message advising that an application has been made and when and where it will be heard.

For an explanation of this service, detailed instructions on how to use it, and the required form, please go to:NOTICES OF PUBLICATION BANS >> To subscribe to receive such notices CONTACT THE DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS >>