From the Courts
September 23, 2011
Reduce backlog of cases, says AG

If at least 10 murder matters are dealt with during the current sitting of the Criminal Assizes, it will greatly assist in reducing the backlog of indictable matters before the High Court, says Attorney General Judith Jones-Morgan.{{more}}

Speaking at the High Court at the opening of the new law term on Tuesday, September 20, Jones-Morgan said efforts were made in the last term to reduce the number of matters listed for trial by holding simultaneous sittings of the Criminal Assizes.

Given the increasing number of professional staff at the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Jones-Morgan noted that the Department was well placed to efficiently handle the simultaneous sittings of the assizes.

Noting the exercise was not as successful as intended and cost the state money, Jones-Morgan said some concerns were expressed by counsel regarding the delays in some matters and the time they were being held.

However, Jones-Morgan noted that the challenge of the smooth sitting of the second court emerged principally from the members of the Bar.

“Almost one third of the trial days were lost because defence counsel reported ill, sent letters saying they had to travel or were about to travel and clearly in some cases, failed to turn up,” the Attorney General stated.

According to Jones-Morgan, she was reliably informed that the judge who came from abroad to handle matters in the second court remarked that some lawyers felt that because she was not based in St Vincent and the Grenadines, she did not know who they were.

She said the judge received a letter, stating that a certain lawyer was overseas. However, upon leaving the precincts of the court, she saw the lawyer who was supposedly overseas.

“We got to do better than that in this law term…I am begging counsel, if you have entered your names representing a client at the arraignment, appear in court when the matter is listed, so the matters can be expeditiously dealt with. We are all in this together. We have to work together to maximize our efforts significantly and seriously reduce the back log of cases in the High Court,” Jones-Morgan implored.(KW)