Chief Justice, the Honourable Mrs. Zaila McCalla, has lamented the delays within the justice system, which is causing a backlog of cases at all levels.
Addressing the official handing over and opening ceremony for the Balaclava Court House, in St. Elizabeth, on Wednesday May 9, the Chief Justice acknowledged that it has long been recognised that there is a need for more courthouses across the country, to address the issue of space, and the number of cases that come before the courts on a daily basis.
Mrs. McCalla also appealed to all stakeholders to make every effort to avoid delays. She highlighted the lack of a sufficient number of jurors to try cases at the circuit court level, as one of the challenges being experienced. This, she explained, will lead to a backlog of cases and a waste of time for persons in attendance at court, at that level.
“Having regard to the vast number of cases to be tried, we cannot afford this waste of time. Many persons in the justice system have come to accept this situation as a normal feature of our court system, and therefore, one of the greatest challenges is for us to eradicate the culture of delay that is endemic in our court system,” she stated.
The Chief Justice informed that she has been engaging participants in the judicial system with a view to implementing criminal case management in all the courts. She pointed out that to date several sensitisation sessions have already been held, criminal case management rules have been drafted and gazetted, and plans are in place to conduct a number of workshops in various parishes across the island to include representatives from the Bar Association and other critical stakeholders in the justice system.
“Commitment and support of all participants is necessary for us to see significant improvement in our justice system. It will serve to reduce delay, save time and expense, and also assist in the quest to reduce the backlog of cases and achieve a more effective and efficient justice system,” she stated.
The Chief Justice expressed confidence that if all stakeholders actively participate and cooperate in the process, the delays can be curtailed and the justice system allowed to work efficiently and effectively.
By Bryan Miller, JIS Reporter