Categorized | National News

AG BOASTS 70% Conviction Rate

Attorney General Carl Bethel says  his office saw a 70 per cent conviction rate in 2017.

Speaking at the opening of the legal year yesterday,  the AG said of the 78 murder and related cases prosecuted in 2017 by his office, 54 ended in a guilty verdict.

The office boasted a 67 per cent  conviction rate for offences overall.

The AG said despite this success,  he would rather the conviction rate be a bit higher, like 75 to 80 per cent.

He also reported that for the past year he nolled 31 cases; down from 96 in the previous year.

Stating that while they want to reduce the backlog,  they have  had a more sparing approach to nolles; only nolling cases that were deemed hopeless beyond prosecution.

He also praised the Voluntary Bill of Indictment as an efficient system, boasting that the 231 VBI’s that were served helped to circumvent the time consuming preliminary inquiry.

Outlining plans for 2018, Mr. Bethel said, “over the next several months my Office will work closely with the judiciary and the Ministry of Public Works to create two new Courtrooms, one a civil family court and the other a criminal court to give focused attention to Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence matters, and also on “backlog” cases. The civil court will be renovated and housed in the courtroom formerly used in the eastern downstairs part of this building, and the criminal court at the north-east corner of the Saffrey Square Arcade. This will allow for the appointment of additional Justices of the Supreme Court,” Bethel said.

He added that 2018 would be marked by a modernized justice system including digital tech, video links, recordings of interviews/ statements and also a system that could save lives.

“My Office will propose new legislation or appropriate amendments, where needed, to facilitate and provide the legislative framework in which these initiatives can take place.  In this regard,  I can foreshadow that amendments will be proposed in short order to enhance the full anonymity of witnesses, fully hiding the face and altering the voice, in cases where there is a clear and present danger of the assassination of witnesses or danger to their family and dependents,” Bethel said.

He admonished lawyers to take stock of the year that was, which he termed as one of transition and transformation, in light of the changes that took place.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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