- To reduce the backlog of cases within the justice system
- The aim is to avoid multiple mention dates and other delays
- The vast majority of backlog within the court system has to do with the Traffic Court
The Government will be strengthening its criminal case management system, as it seeks to reduce the backlog of cases within the justice system.
Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, said the aim is to have the parties to criminal proceedings and the judge proactively manage the cases, to avoid multiple mention dates and other delays.
“(This) is a feature of our criminal justice system – a lot of time wasting, several mention dates and things are not ready – so the case cannot proceed and it gets put off many times. So, we want to intensively utilise criminal case management to avoid some of those delays,” the Minister told JIS News in an interview.
He explained that criminal case management is “an administrative hearing to resolve whatever issues there are, to identify what are the issues in the case, what is not an issue, and ensure that everything is ready before the matter is set down for trial.”
Senator Golding said the criminal case management system is currently being spearheaded by the Chief Justice, Hon. Zaila McCalla and a Steering Committee, chaired by Appeal Court Judge, Mr. Dennis Morrison.
“It’s a process, we have to engage with the Bar and get people on board with it. We have had a number of seminars to get the co-operation of the key stakeholders,” he added.
Meanwhile, Senator Golding noted that the vast majority of backlog within the court system has to do with the Traffic Court and these mainly consist of unpaid tickets.
As of June 30, 2012 there were some 224,341 unsettled traffic tickets in the system and those date back largely to the period where there was the manual paper-based ticketing system.
In terms of other types of cases, there are approximately 30,000 pending criminal cases in the Resident Magistrate (RM) Court, of which approximately 8,700 have been in the system for more than 2 years, based on audit done in 2012.
On the civil side of the RM Court, of the roughly 12,000 pending cases, approximately 2,800 cases have been in the system for more than two years.
For the Gun Court division of the Supreme Court, there are roughly 2,000 pending cases, of which 404 cases have been in the system for more than 2 years.
“In the Circuit Court, which is the jury trial, we measure that by how many cases are traversed from one term to another, and there are some 543 cases that were traversed,” Senator Golding said.
The Minister pointed out that in the Coroner’s Court, of the 704 cases which are pending for inquest, 472 of those have been in the system for more than 2 years.