Prominent local attorney Derek Sylvester continues to be concerned about the slow pace of legal proceedings in the courts, which cause matters to be delayed while accused persons languish on remand longer than is appropriate. He spoke about this and other matters to the media last week
Sylvester said there are approximately 200 matters pending before the criminal court, with one judge and inadequate facilities. He added that during a recent trial Justice Gilford got ill, which placed her on sick leave and the trial was almost aborted.
It is important to note he said that the office facility where the judge sits is inappropriate and needs termite treatment. “It needs more than just dusting because whenever the judge sits there, she gets sick. Needed is a new or different facility and also more judges before we end up with a constitution fiasco”.
The attorney at law said there’s a constitutional provision, which states that every person who is charged with a criminal offence must be tried within a fair and reasonable time by a fair and impartial tribunal established by law. That, he said is being violated with all the persons at the prison that are waiting to be tried.
According to Sylvester, to date there are 438 male inmates and three females at Her Majesty’s Prison with numerous persons on remand; many persons are on appeal, awaiting the preparation of the record of appeal to be able to have their appeal prosecuted and the ends of justice met.
He explained that in due course, applications would be filed in relation to judicial review for the release of persons who are held in custody for extended periods of time. With one civil judge sitting at present without a judicial assistant, he has to do divorces, fix claims, conduct chamber hearings etc., these are issues he said that are touching and concerning the judiciary but are not taken seriously.
Speaking as a practising attorney both at the criminal and civil court Sylvester insists that it’s important to have the system improved immediately. “There’s a need for more than one criminal judge since one criminal trial lasted for more than two weeks”.
“If there’s a murder trial involving more than one accused person this matter can go up to as much as six weeks to two months while there are almost 200 matters pending in the court.
Sylvester explained, in the civil jurisdiction of the court, over 600 matters are filed every year and the percentage of disposal most times is 15%, with only one to two judges sitting with a master that comes into the jurisdiction once a month. He went on to say that if the administration of the justice is not taken seriously persons might get the impression that justice is not being served and may be tempted to take the law into their own hands. Persons need to have trust and confidence in the justice system, be it for civil, criminal or appellate matters, he said.