Senior Puisne Judge, Hon. Mrs. Justice Carol Lawrence-Beswick, says trial date certainty will be utilised during the current Hilary Term of the Home Circuit Court.
Trial date or hearing date certainty is the proportion of dates that are set for trial or hearing and which proceed without adjournment.
Addressing the ceremonial opening of the Hilary Session of the Home Circuit Court, today (January 7), at the Supreme Court, downtown Kingston, Mrs. Lawrence-Beswick, said during the period persons will observe that on Mondays, “we will have fewer cases than we used to have in the past, and on Wednesdays, we have none at all”.
“This is different from what we are accustomed to having and it is in an effort to have what is described as trial date certainty,” Justice Lawrence-Beswick said.
She noted that the focus is to have fewer cases kept on each day, so that the cases that are being listed will have certainty that on the day it is listed, a trial will be held.
Justice Lawrence-Beswick told the audience that the use of trial date certainty started in 2018, and that the statistics now report that “we have trial dates certainty in the amount of 78 per cent”.
The international standard for this measure is between 92 and 100 per cent, and the Chief Justice has set a target of 95 per cent.
She pointed out that the benefits from trial date certainty include better time management of judicial time, and police and the court staff will work in a more focused manner when it is clear that each case listed is going to be tried.
Justice Lawrence-Beswick said this increase in efficiency is as a result of the hard work of several players in the system.
She added that in addition to the trial date certainty, a standby list is being developed to accommodate cases to be tried at short notice in the event that any of the courts “breaks down or if a case ends prematurely and a court becomes available for a trial”.
There are 1,090 cases listed for trial during the Hilary Term, which ends in April 2019.
Providing a breakdown of cases for the Easter Term, Senior Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Jeremy Taylor, said 556 are for murder and 333 for sexual offences.
Prior to her address, Justice Lawrence-Beswick; Custos of St. Andrew, Hon. Patricia Dunwell, and Deputy Custos of Kingston, Mr. Justice Rion Hall, were given the General Salute by members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF). The officials also inspected the guard of honour formed by the police.