Senior magistrate raises concerns again about people not showing up for cases
News
January 20, 2023
Senior magistrate raises concerns again about people not showing up for cases

Senior Magistrate, Rickie Burnett has once again expressed concerns with the delays in court hearings.

The senior magistrate addressed the situation on January 18, at the Kingstown Magistrate Court, where he presides, when matters where being called and defendants were not showing up.

Burnett said that he is concerned as well with the time that parties are arriving at court. Sometimes when matters are called a party is either late or not showing up for the hearing.

He said given the difficulties which are currently being faced citizens of the Organisation of the Eastern Caribbean Sates (OECS) are openly complaining about the justice system.

Burnett said further that people like himself, who command the system, must pay attention to what the citizens are saying because, at the end of the day, the justice system is in place to serve the people.

“I saw a letter from Antigua- or probably in Antigua, where a complainant was saying the same thing, delays in the system and adjournments and as someone who is following what is happening in the courts we have to adjust our minds to these situations,” Burnett said, adding that citizens are not happy.

He drew reference to a 73 year old complainant who was in court for the hearing of his matter, however the defendant was not present and Burnett said, “ we are not to have a 73-year-old man coming to court four to five times for a hearing…,that should not happen.”

Prosecutor, Curlene Samuel told the senior magistrate that they took into consideration the age of the complainant and the number of times he has turned up to court. However, she said, on that last occasion they were not able to serve the defendant and the 73 year old was not informed.

On this occasion, however, she said the summons was served so the complainant was not prevented from attending court on Wednesday.

Burnett apologized to the complainant and told him that he now has to physically get the defendant to come to court.

In a SEARCHLIGHT article published on November 12, 2022, the senior magistrate had taken some time before court commenced to address concerns that were raised by a plaintiff whose case had been adjourned five times since the matter was initially filed on January 6, 2022.

The senior magistrate said when the civil court convenes on Thursdays, he repeatedly raises the issue of summons not being served, highlighting the financial burden the delays have on litigants.

“Persons who generally come to court, 98 per cent of the time, are very poor individuals. And when they have to go and come, it is a cost to them.

“Workers here, our salaries are 99.9 percent sure. If we had to put ourselves in the places of parties who are trying to get justice in the court…service is a problem. I am not saying the bailiffs are at fault on each and every occasion, but maybe sometimes they can do better,” Burnett said then.

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