The Court Administration Division (CAD) is advising the public that all sittings and hearings of Parish Courts will be suspended from March 23 to April 20, except for matters deemed by the judge to be fit for hearing during this time.
The decision was made following a meeting with the senior judges of the courts out of concern for staff on the front lines, and is aimed at discouraging public gatherings and promoting social distancing.
Chief Justice, Bryan Sykes, said matters in relation to domestic violence, maintenance collections and payments, breaches of the Quarantine Act and certain matters involving children will continue to be treated as emergency matters.
“In civil matters, no trials are to take place. Judgments in default may continue within the discretion of the judge having regard to all the circumstances. All senior parish court judges are to put in place a schedule, which will ensure reduced service for members of the public.
“In the parishes of Trelawny and Clarendon, senior parish court judges and judges of the family courts are to coordinate their schedules to ensure someone is always available for emergency matters arising in the family court jurisdiction,” the Chief Justice said.
All persons on bail will have their bail extended until their next court date, which will be announced on the CAD website, while matters before the Drug Treatment Courts are to be adjourned for a future date.
Meanwhile, for criminal courts, all sittings are to be suspended until April 20, and guilty pleas are to be facilitated.
Applicants for spirit licences are being reminded not to turn up for court as they will be advised of the outcome of their applications by phone.
For family services for Parish and Family Courts, the Chief Justice said counselling matters are to be facilitated by phone for existing clients where possible or suspended until further notice.
“A counsellor should be available in case of an emergency. Declaration of paternity and custody matters is to be suspended until further notice. The courts will continue to hear domestic violence matters, and maintenance payments will still be made. Therefore, we will continue to facilitate payments into the courts,” Justice Sykes said.
For Traffic Court, all matters for trial are to be adjourned for a future date, with guilty pleas to be facilitated.
All night court hearings are postponed with immediate effect, and affected persons are advised to call the hotlines for the new dates and for further information.
The CAD emergency numbers are as follows: 876-926-3750, 876-613-8800 and 876-754-8337.
The Chief Justice continues to urge staff and the wider public to practise proper hygiene and social distancing in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Information concerning matters that were to be heard during the period March 23 to April 17 will be published at the courts, on websites and in the printed press.
Persons can visit supremecourt.gov.jm, cad.gov.jm and parishcourt.gov.jm for information on new court dates.