JIS News

Two Appeal Court Judges and three Puisne Judges of the Supreme Court were yesterday (December 31), sworn into office by Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Howard Cooke, at King’s House.
Sworn in as Court of Appeal Judges were Justice Karl Harrison, effective January 7; and Justice Zaila McCalla, effective January 10. Sworn in as Puisne Judges of the Supreme Court were Bryan Sykes, effective January 7; Jennifer Straw, effective January 7; and Almarie Sinclair-Haynes, effective January 10.
In his remarks, the Governor-General said he was proud of the growth of the justice system and the accomplishments of the newly sworn in Judges.
“I feel a sense of change and a sense of growth in the judicial system… I thank the judges for what they are doing and I thank all of you for making yourselves available. It is good to know that in the Jamaican context today, we have so many good persons, so the best is always available,” Sir Howard said.
Chief Justice Lensley Wolfe, in congratulating the newly appointed judges said that “we the members of the Judicial Commission have no doubt that your recommendation for appointment have been justly earned and I hope that you will continue to perform at the high level at which you have been performing”.
He reminded them of the great task ahead. “I want to sound the alarm that only this morning I had a meeting with the Director of Public Prosecution and others, and the decision is that 2005 is going to be a back-breaking year. So I would advise you that between now and then to get all the rest you can get, because that backlog which threatens us is going to be reduced,” the Chief Justice emphasized.
The Chief Justice also had a word of warning for members of the private Bar, stressing that all applications for adjournments that were being allowed, would not be accommodated in the new year, as the backlog of cases had to be reduced.
He noted that of the 273 cases in the Home Circuit Court last term, only 43 were completed. “The simplest of case is taking three to four weeks to be disposed of. I have no fear in saying that is a waste of judicial time, as we can get through cases much more quickly than we are doing at the moment,” the Chief Justice said.
Justice Wolfe said the proposal to introduce case management into criminal trials have been circulated to the Judges of the Supreme Court. “Come eggs or young ones, it is going to happen in 2005. We cannot continue to have people coming into court repeatedly to be told to come back another day and all it does is to frustrate witnesses and at the end of the day, guilty persons walk free because witnesses cannot be found,” he said.
He said another problem was that persons were unwilling to serve as jurors and that would also be addressed in the new year. “I am prepared for all the opposition that I expect to come. I am prepared for it and I hope that you the judges will give me the support,” Mr. Wolfe said.
President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ian Forte congratulated the judges. He said the fact that they were being sworn in was evidence of the confidence that the Judicial Service Commission had in their performances.
Responding on behalf of the Judges, Justice Harrison said they would strive to protect the integrity and impartiality of the Judiciary. “It will be our duty to apply the law as each one of us understands it, without fear or favour and without regard to whether the decision is popular or not”.

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