Judiciary’s Director of Communications retiring

John Piccolo



John Piccolo, Director of Communications for the Nova Scotia judiciary, is retiring at the end of the month.

John’s work with the Executive Office of the Nova Scotia Judiciary offers a breadth and scope of accomplishment deserving recognition. He is a consummate communicator who often strikes a fine balance between important and sometimes conflicting constitutionally recognized principles.

A sampling of John’s outstanding contributions:

  • In 2008, John was the principal organizer of a conference dedicated to increasing public understanding of and confidence in Canada’s justice system and the Rule of Law. Entitled “A Free Press and an Independent Judiciary”, this two-day conference brought 166 participants together to speak openly about roles and responsibilities and the issues that arise when fundamental principles such as freedom of the press, the open courts concept and the right to a fair trial collide.
  • With the agreement of Judge Anne Derrick, John proposed and then expertly executed a first in Nova Scotia – the webcast of the inquiry into the death of Howard Hyde pursuant to the Fatality Investigations Act. The webcast helped in understanding the recommendations made by Judge Derrick and assisted in building support for the government’s robust response.
  • John has been instrumental in the creation of the Courts N.S. website versions 1.0 and 2.0. Website 2.0 was launched after more than a year of preparation, almost entirely consisting of John’s single-handed effort. Cost savings aside, this monumental effort demonstrates a commitment to stay current with technological advances, a requirement to collaborate with judges from all levels of court and various court administration professionals, and a desire to innovate by introducing new features such as fillable pdf forms with bubble help to aid the self-represented, court dockets online, a class action registry and a publication ban notification system to name a few.
  • John acted as Executive Producer in the creation of a DVD with a personalized booklet (approximately four pages) that is aimed at educating parents involved in child protection proceedings. The DVD and booklet were coupled with the design of a poster distributed in all Family Court buildings, transition homes, men's resource centers, as well as child protection offices to visually identify for parents that there is help available. This resource explains in a clear and simple manner where to go and what to do to successfully maintain the integrity of their family. The DVD has also been translated to both French and Mi’kmaq.
  • John was instrumental in the creation of the Family Law Nova Scotia website, which launched in July 2012 in an unprecedented partnership among the Judiciary, the provincial Departments of Justice and Community Services, Justice Canada, the Nova Scotia Legal Aid Commission, the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society, the CBA, LISNS and the Capital District Health Authority. The website, nsfamilylaw.ca, has proven itself to be an invaluable online resource, assisting thousands of people in navigating their options and better understanding their legal issues. It’s clearly leading to system efficiencies as well; people who use the website at the outset of a family law matter tend to be much better prepared when they speak to court staff, and their time with a lawyer can also be much more focused and specific.

John’s efforts have had a tremendous impact, including:

  • enhanced access to legal information;
  • improved online resources for lawyers and the self-represented;
  • providing ‘hands-on’ legal education opportunities for high school students;
  • ensuring that “Justice is not only done but seen to be done” via webcasting;
  • collaborative relationships with a variety of justice system participants; and
  • an ongoing dialogue between the judiciary and the media.

As John says, “Arrivederci”, we say, “Grazie, buona fortuna e hanno una lunga e felice pensionamento!”

(Photo credit: http://forum.modern-courts.ca)