Alonzo Wright, Mark Heerema appointed as judges to Nova Scotia’s provincial court

The Nova Scotia flag pinned to a map of the province. Photo: Canva

Effective today, September 28, Alonzo Wright and Mark Heerema, both seasoned attorneys from Halifax, have been appointed as judges to Nova Scotia’s provincial court. With these additions, the provincial court is now fully staffed.

Attorney General and Justice Minister Brad Johns commended the new appointees, stating, “Nova Scotians are fortunate to have two high-quality individuals presiding over provincial court matters. These appointees are experienced and respected lawyers with deep roots in their communities. They have each demonstrated professional integrity and good character, and made outstanding contributions to the practice of law.”

Alonzo Wright, a King’s Counsel (KC), has been practicing criminal law since 1996. As a senior Crown attorney with the Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Service, Wright has handled some of the province’s most complex and high-profile criminal cases, including sexual assaults, homicides, and cybercrimes. Prior to his judicial appointment, he served as the Director of the Serious Incident Response Team (SiRT) since December 2022.

Mark Heerema holds a master of law degree from the University of Cambridge and was called to the Nova Scotia Bar in 2007. He quickly became a part of the Public Prosecution Service’s special prosecution team as a Crown attorney, focusing on intricate cases like sexual assaults, fraud, and homicides. Heerema is also an author in the legal fields of mental health, criminal, and constitutional law.

In light of Wright’s appointment, Erin Nauss has been named as the interim Director of SiRT. Nauss, who has 17 years of legal experience, joined the Department of Justice in 2007 as a solicitor and has advised senior officials on various legal matters, including the Police Act. “I thank Erin for serving as interim Director, bringing her strong legal expertise to the role. She is well-qualified for this position,” said Minister Johns.

SiRT is responsible for civilian-led oversight of police activities, handling investigations into serious incidents such as death, serious injury, and sexual assault involving police officers. A permanent director for SiRT will be announced at a later date.

The new judges were selected from a list recommended by the Advisory Committee on Provincial Judicial Appointments. This seven-member independent body includes two members of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society, a sitting provincial court judge, three public representatives, and a retired judiciary member as Chair. Selection criteria include merit and professional excellence, with consideration given to gender, language, racial and cultural diversity, geographical representation, and public service commitment.