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Members of the island’s judiciary converged on the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston yesterday (Jan. 13), for a one-day training seminar on criminal case management conducted by experts from Britain.
Organised by Chief Justice, Lensley Wolfe and Permanent Secretary in the Justice Ministry, Carol Palmer, the seminar is part of efforts to introduce case management in the criminal jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Jamaica, and follows on the implementation of a similar system in the civil jurisdiction in January 2003.
The aim is to ensure the most effective and efficient management of cases from pre-charge through to conclusion.
Lord Justice John Thomas and Justice Peter Gross from the Royal Courts of Justice in London conducted the training sessions, which covered: introduction to the principle of criminal case management; case management hearing; adherence to the timetable; management of the trial; management of the case load of the courts; and special cases.
Chief Justice Wolfe, in his address at the opening ceremony, thanked Justices Thomas and Gross for giving of their time and knowledge to the training of local judges, singling out Justice Thomas as “a man behind a lot of the changes which are taking place in the United Kingdom in the justice system, so we are very fortunate for him to have been released to be with us”.
Mrs. Palmer, for her part, remarked that the seminar was in keeping with the Ministry’s programme of training judges.
She explained that while “a lot of people in Jamaica think our judges do nothing in terms of keeping themselves current, it is a matter of record that our judges are always doing things to make sure that .they discharge their functions with relevance to the Jamaican situation”.
The Permanent Secretary said the seminar was being carried out within the context of the reform agenda of the justice system.
She told the judges present that while they might have some knowledge of the agenda, “we have some concerns within the Ministry and we will have to speak to the Chief (Justice) and the President of the Court Appeal about how we bring the full agenda to you. and also to ensure that we get your full input and participation in the process”.
In his remarks, Justice Thomas expressed gratitude for the warm welcome shown to him and Justice Gross.He explained that England and Wales has implemented the criminal case management framework four years ago, with the aim of achieving greater efficiency in dispensing justice, while improving public confidence in the justice system.
He noted that while most countries strove to produce a justice system that was economical to run and quick in deciding cases, the system must above all, “produce a just result giving people confidence in criminal and civil justice”.