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Monday, February 13, 2012

Phillips and Miller on Judicial Reform in Nova Scotia

“Too Many Courts and Too Much Law”: The Politics of Judicial Reform in Nova Scotia, 1830–1841" by Jim Phillips and Bradley Miller appears in  the current issue of the Law & History Review.

Here's the abstract:

The 1830s was Nova Scotia's “Age of Reform.” Although historians have documented the growing tensions between elected Assembly and appointed lieutenant governor and Council, the concomitant attacks on the established economic elite, and the rise of a distinct party in colonial politics, little attention has been paid to the role played by the colony's courts and judges in this crucial decade. This lacuna is surprising, because reformers were convinced that the judges of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court (NSSC) were bulwarks of the old order and barriers to progress, and as their movement gained influence in the 1830s it brought the judges and the court system to the fore. This period saw numerous proposals for reform to the colony's laws and legal system, some effected and others not. Here we examine those aspects of the reform platform that were most hotly contested precisely because they exemplified the ways in which controversies about the legal system both reflected and exacerbated broader political and social change. The most important issues were judicial fees and the role of the chief justice as head of the Tory-dominated lieutenant governor's Council. We also examine two other matters in which the judicial system was directly linked to reformers' general demands for a system of government more responsive to the needs of ordinary Nova Scotians: judicial salaries and the role of the lower civil courts

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