Processing of Court Cases to Be Improved Through CISS

Photo: Dave Reid Minister of Justice, Hon. Delroy Chuck (second left), looks on as Court Statistician, Dr. Denarto Dennis (right), and Data Entry Clerk from the St. Ann Parish Court, Shanique Davis (seated), demonstrate the use of the Court Information Statistical System (CISS), which has been implemented at parish courts across the island. Head of Development Cooperation at the High Commission of Canada, Walter Bernyck; and Chief Justice, Hon. Zaila McCalla, also observe. Occasion was the official launch of the system on January 21, at the Ministry’s Constant Spring Road offices.

The justice sector should see significant improvement in its processing of court cases, having implemented a Court Information Statistical System (CISS) in parish courts islandwide.

The system allows for the tracking of matters as they move through the court system from initiation to disposition, which will result in faster determination of when a case falls into backlog.

Statistics and Data Capture Consultant, Dr. Denarto Dennis, said CISS provides a mechanism which captures data at each stage of a case.

“So the system would, for example, capture date of initiation, next date of hearing, reasons for adjournment, number of times the matter is mentioned, if a matter goes to trial and the dates that are set for trial,” he explained.

Dr. Dennis told JIS News that the system is particularly effective in strengthening case management, as it captures the age of all matters active in the courts.

“This means that at any given point you go on the system, you should be able to see the age, that is, how old each matter before the court is,” he said.

The system was piloted in some parish courts beginning in July 2016 and was fully implemented by October. It was formally launched in January of this year.

Ahead of the implementation, there was no electronic means of managing cases, except for the Half-Way Tree court, which had an older version of the system for a few years before. Cases were, therefore, being managed manually, which resulted in an ad hoc approach to tracking cases.

“This system allows for a more centralised way of managing case flow and case progression. It makes the courts more efficient, in that we can now easily do historical searches for records, rather than having to scroll through warehouses and file inventory areas. CISS allows us to efficiently search for old cases, which helps in the day-to-day operations of the court and it being able to serve the public,” Dr. Dennis said.

Parish courts have Case Progression Officers (CPOs) who work in tandem with data-entry personnel to monitor the progression of cases. The CPOs interface with the system, monitor the age of matters, monitor what is happening with the different matters, and then carry out the intervention necessary to get cases ready for court.

Plans are under way to expand the CISS to civil courts. On June 5, the system was implemented for a pilot in the Corporate Area Civil Division. Following a successful pilot, it is to be rolled out islandwide in civil courts.

“This programme adds tremendous value to the court system in the sense that what we will see in the coming years is a significant reduction in the length of time that it takes for cases to be disposed of,” Dr. Dennis said.

This will be facilitated by the system allowing the courts to be able to better manage case flow and to inform the interventions necessary to strengthen the ability and capacity of the courts to handle their caseloads and to manage the readiness of matters for courts,” he added.

Implementation of CISS is supported through the Justice Undertakings for Social Transformation (JUST) programme, which is funded by the Canadian Government.

The programme aims to enhance the efficiency of case management and judicial processes in the court system.

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