In a small intimate ceremony at Government House yesterday Chief Magistrate Roger Gomez and Deputy Chief Magistrate Carolita Bethel were sworn in as Supreme Court judges with aims of having a positive impact on the justice system.
Recently Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage said in the House of Assembly that within the last five years at least 305 accused murderers were released on bail.
He accredited this problem to the inability of the justice system to effectively manage cases.
While wrapping up debate in the House of Assembly Prime Minister Perry Christie said the government will bring to Parliament a bill to add 20 more judges to the judiciary.
The two newly sworn in judges have disposed of many criminal and civil cases at the magistrate level.
Justice Bethel after the ceremony made brief suggestions on how to decrease the backlog in the country’s second highest court.
“A lot has to come into play,” she said.
“You can’t have one person in many courts at the same time. You would have to have witnesses available – some who must be in other courts. We’re looking at a lot of jurors and a lot of prosecutors.”
Mrs. Bethel also said, “The accused have the right to a jury of their peers or without.”
Mr. Gomez then told reporters that speed is vital in reducing the criminal justice system’s backlog.
“We were made quite aware before we were appointed that this needs to be done,” he said.
“As you know we have so much crime going on in the country that it’s hard for the court to keep up with the cases, so the more judges you have and the more courts made available, the faster the process should be able to go on.”
Both judges were alerted about three weeks ago of their appointments and are very happy and comfortable with the positions.
Judge Gomez will deal with the civil court and Judge Bethel with the criminal court.
Both are hoping that at some point they are able to deal with both court cases.
Sources have told The Bahama Journal that Guillimina Archer will become the new chief magistrate.
No word yet on who will take up Mrs. Bethel’s old post.