Categorized | National News

Lawyers File Suit Against AG—-Lawyers to sue Attorney General over court reporters removal

Criminal defense attorneys fed up with the removal of stenographers from the Magistrates’ Courts announced yesterday that they are filing a lawsuit against Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson.

The attorneys who make up the Criminal Bar Association said Monday, that this is a fight for justice.

The group held a press conference on the steps outside the South Street Court Complex.

Since the court reporters have been removed from the courts, the magistrates have had to record the proceedings and according to Attorney Murio Ducille, this creates a challenge for those seeking justice before the courts.

“Magistrates are now the official court reporters – their notes constitute the official record of the trial and proceedings,” he said. “There is danger of subjectivity versus objectivity. Already, there have been instances of magistrates being observed not recording the evidence and legal issues arising but apparently summarising what they consider to be important and relevant.”

The lawyers said the attorney general has shown no indication that she is willing to compromise on the issue, therefore leaving them with no other alternative but to take the matter before the courts.

“We have already filed an action and there are other actions to come because it must be clearly understood that our position as criminal lawyers is to work along to allow the system to operate smoothly without any hitches but again this cannot be compromised in any way in any form or any fashion,” Mr. Ducille said.

“The court reporters are an essential ingredient in the entire process of justice and without them justice would seriously be affected. So our position right now is to go to the courts and deal with matters.”

Mr. Ducille also dismissed assertions that stenographers are not needed at all proceedings at the Magistrates’ Courts; in fact, argued, their presence is essential to every proceeding that takes place.

“Every matter here requires the benefit of stenographers,” he said. “Persons have mentioned that these are summary courts but that’s not really so, I would say this is really a misnomer.

“We’re not talking about persons being sentenced to one week or five days in Fox Hill Prison.
We’re talking about up to seven years in prison. No summary court has that power. So we cannot say or analogise the factual circumstances with that of summary.”

Last month the court reporters were removed from the lower courts.

However, attorneys can request stenographers for proceedings at the Magistrates’ Courts through the chief justice or the chief magistrate, but Mr. Ducille said so far none of the attorneys’ requests have been granted.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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