The government is making major headway in ensuring that 10 criminal courts are up and running at the same time to help decrease the major backlog in the judicial system as well as improve the efficiency of the courts, according to Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson.
As it stands now court cases, big or small, in the country all drag through the judicial system causing a near decades’ long backlog.
But in a bid to clean up an otherwise shoddy and inefficient structure Attorney General Maynard-Gibson said Tuesday, that come January, the government intends to have those 10 criminal courts operating at the same time and added that efforts to make this happen are moving along smoothly.
“We expect that the result of that would be that routinely serious matters would be brought to trial within a constitutionally mandated reasonable period of time and we expect that to be 12 months,” she said.
“We hope for sure it’ll be no longer than 18 months and we hope that when people realise how serious we are about prosecuting serious crime that there will continue to be the positive impact on reducing crime that we already see, the result of Swift Justice.”
But the Director Of Public Prosecutions Vinette Graham-Allen said having more courts up and running would all mean nothing if when cases get there they encounter major roadblocks due to silly mistakes.
In some big name cases recently the prosecution was slammed for some sloppy work in bringing evidence to court like files not properly labeled or filled out, pieces of evidence missing or prosecution witnesses, even some police officers simply not knowing what to say on the stand.
“It has caused delays in the justice system and I think that is one of the relevant roles of Swift Justice, bringing all the relevant stakeholders together to ensure that what we encountered in the past, whether it’s a file that’s incomplete, we need to avoid those types of delays,” Mrs. Graham-Allen said.
“Once the prosecutor gets in the mix from a report is made to the police then you will see the result that one is hoping for that the cases are well prepared; well prosecuted and the jury will speak.
“As I always maintain the accused persons will have one of two choices; you either plead guilty or you are found guilty. That’s where we want to be in this country.”
So far Attorney General Maynard-Gibson said the initiatives put forth by her office have reaped some major benefits, if only with the timing of these cases.
She noted that cases that would have taken over a year to get to court are now being prosecuted in just months.
“Between October and December (2012) the days went down to 122 days,” Mrs. Maynard-Gibson said. “Between January and May (2013) the days were down to 73 days. So from October to May, because of the initiative of getting prosecutor involved at the earliest stage the presentation went down from 344 days to 73.
“It is our objective to get this down even further to not more than 30 days. So we hope that as we see matters proceed you will no longer hear about evidence not on the file and that type of thing this exemplifies that success.”
The attorney general said they are awaiting Cabinet’s approval for the location of these 10 courts.