Judge questions use of restriction in court undertakings

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PICTOU – A local provincial court judge is questioning whether it is right to mandate that people who have been charged with a crime remain in the province while they make their way through the court system. 

Judge Del Atwood released a written decision Wednesday stating that a condition in a court undertaking that stipulates a person who is released on bail stay within the province shouldn’t be used unless the person is considered a flight risk.

He made the statement in Pictou Provincial Court in response to an application filed by man accused of uttering threats and simple assault who wanted his undertaking changed so he could leave Nova Scotia.

Atwood said he gets many of these application requests and feels that such a stipulation is not “constitutionally compliant.” 

“The imposition of such a condition would be constitutionally compliant only if the officer processing the release were to have sufficient grounds to believe that the accused would pose a flight risk,” he said.  “In none of the Form 11.1 bail-variation applications that I have heard has that been the case, but leads me to have concern that this condition is being imposed in many cases improperly.”

The man’s request to have his undertaking changed was not opposed by the Crown and granted by Atwood. 

Geographic location: Nova Scotia

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