The use of virtual hearings in the courts will be maintained and intensified over time as the phased reopening of the courts progresses.
This forms part of efforts geared towards improving the efficiency of the Justice System by increasing the incorporation of technology in its processes and facilitating ease of access.
Acting Director of Client Services, Communication and Information at the Court Administration Division (CAD), Kadiesh Fletcher, said, going forward, the use of technology in the courts by way of virtual hearings, will be maintained.
“Virtual hearings, as far as is practical and practicable, will take place for persons who are in custody. We were able to do quite a few of them during the period of suspension, so it is something we are hoping to ramp up. Of course, we are partnering with the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Department of Corrections, because those are holding facilities and we need the partnership with them, and that has been going quite well,” Ms. Fletcher said.
In March, the CAD began facilitating bail hearings virtually through video-conferencing, in the parishes of Kingston and St. Andrew, St. James, and Trelawny.
At the time, implementation of the measure formed part of the judiciary’s attempt at continuing the administration of justice while preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the reopening of the Courts is being done in stages, with the period June 1 to June 30 comprising Phase One.
Closer to the end of the period, an assessment will be done to see what adjustments need to be made to maintain the safety of staff and persons using the courts as well as to continue providing access to justice services.
Members of the public are being asked to comply with the protocols in accessing the courts during this time, as all the measures put in place, so far, have been done to continue to contain the spread of COVID-19.
“We are asking for understanding. There will be some delays in terms of accessing the buildings, because of all the checks that you will now have to go through. We are asking persons to be a little patient and to come a little earlier if that is possible, so that you can go through all the checks that you need to, in order to go where you need to conduct your business with the court,” Ms. Fletcher said.
Persons entering court buildings will be required to wear face coverings that span their noses and mouths.
Visitors can expect to be asked by security to remove the face covering that they may be properly identified.
Temperature checks will also be performed with a handheld thermometer and visitors will be sanitised before they are given entry to the court building.