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  • Minister of Justice, Hon. Delroy Chuck, is reporting significant improvement in the case-disposal rates of the Courts.
  • Citing the Chief Justice’s Statistics Reports for the Parish Courts of Jamaica for the period January-June 2018, Mr. Chuck said the Corporate Area Criminal Court and Westmoreland Parish Court had the highest disposal rates of 62 to 63 per cent.
  • The disposal rate is the proportion of new cases filed within a particular period that have been disposed of within that similar period. The improvement in the case-disposal rates has also been a catalyst for improving the case-clearance rates across the Parish Courts.

Minister of Justice, Hon. Delroy Chuck, is reporting significant improvement in the case-disposal rates of the Courts.

Citing the Chief Justice’s Statistics Reports for the Parish Courts of Jamaica for the period January-June 2018, Mr. Chuck said the Corporate Area Criminal Court and Westmoreland Parish Court had the highest disposal rates of 62 to 63 per cent.

The disposal rate is the proportion of new cases filed within a particular period that have been disposed of within that similar period. The improvement in the case-disposal rates has also been a catalyst for improving the case-clearance rates across the Parish Courts.

“An average of 2,451 new criminal cases are filed across all parishes on a monthly basis, with a total of 14,824 new criminal cases entering the Parish Courts for the first six months of 2018,” he noted.

The Minister was speaking in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (October 9).

Mr. Chuck said 11 Courts have achieved case clearance rates of more than 90 per cent and have, therefore, attained international standards in this respect, in the second quarter.

“The case-clearance rate is the ratio of new cases filed to cases completed, regardless of when those cases commenced. A persistent case-clearance rate of less than 100 per cent will result in a backlog,” Mr. Chuck said.

“The Courts, therefore, have to target 90-100 per cent clearance rate in order to prevent the backlog from persisting in the courts,” he added.

Mr. Chuck said the overall clearance rate for the second quarter of 2018 was 98 per cent, an improvement of nine percentage points over the first quarter.

He pointed out that although these results indicate that there are still more new cases filed than cases disposed of across the Parish Courts, the overall direction is quite positive for the reduction of the criminal case backlog.

“The Parish Courts of Westmoreland, St. Catherine and St. Thomas have the best cumulative clearance rates, so far, in 2018, while the Parish Courts of Clarendon and Hanover were the most improved Courts on this measure in the second quarter, with increases of 54.39 and 26.78 percentage points, respectively,” Mr. Chuck said.

The Minister indicated that the international benchmark for case-clearance rate is an average of 90-110 per cent, adding that the Chief Justice has set a target of 130 to 140 per cent for case clearance rates, in order to clear and prevent a continued backlog.

Mr. Chuck said the noteworthy improvements in the case-clearance and case-disposal rates across all Parish Courts have resulted in the case-congestion rate falling from 310.20 per cent in the first quarter of 2018 to 223.3 per cent in the second quarter, an improvement of 86.9 percentage points.

Case-congestion rate means the ratio of pending cases to cases disposed of in a given period. It is an indication of how fatigued the courts are, given the existing state of resources and degree of efficiency.

A case\-congestion rate of 150 per cent, for example, is an indication that given the resources currently at a court’s disposal and its degree of efficiency, it is carrying 1.5 times its capacity.

“The ideal case-congestion rate should be around 100 per cent, which would indicate that the Courts’ existing resources are efficiently aligned and optimally utilised. If the current trend continues for the next two years, the criminal-case backlog across the Parish Courts will be reduced by at least 72 per cent,” Mr. Chuck said.

“This means that if we manage to sustain the current disposal rate, we will not only clear the backlog, but we will also prevent the creation of new backlog. The Courts need to dispose of cases at a rate that is faster than the rate of filing, in order to clear the backlog and prevent new cases from going into backlog,” he added.

The Minister informed that the courts with the largest number of new cases were the Corporate Area, St. James and St. Catherine Parish Courts, while the Hanover, St. Mary, and St. Thomas Parish Courts reported the smallest number of new matters.

The three most frequent criminal charges filed in the Parish Courts over the period under report were Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm, Unlawful Wounding and Threats.

Males within a certain age group are the main offenders. The report noted that 82 per cent of the matters in the Courts were committed by males, with the dominant age group of offenders being young men – 26.99 per cent were 20 to 26 years old and 29.34 per cent were 27 to 36 years of age.