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CJ Raps Justice System–Criminals Abuse Bail, Says CJ


Chief Justice Sir Hartman Longley highlighted the flaws in the local judicial system as he gave his first speech since his appointment at the annual church service and ceremony to bring in the new 2016 legal year yesterday morning.

Dozens could be seen marching to the Supreme Court on Wednesday morning for one of the first activities in the celebration for the new legal year.
Sir Hartman lamented the judicial system as he called for a more effective warrant execution unit.

He said today, many criminals are not taking bail seriously and are abusing bail privileges.

He also said the appeals process is being used as a “get out of jail card” by many criminals, a problem that needs to be fixed immediately.

“Hundreds of people who are charged with criminal offenses are on the loose with very low chance of ever being brought to trial,” Sir Hartman said.

“Warrants for arrests are not being executed and bails are not being enforced. Administration of justice is being abused. There has been several hundred criminal matters and several thousand traffic matters just in the last five years. These cases are not heard of again. Justice is not only delayed but, denied.”
Sir Hartman also said too many cases have gone untouched for too long not only in New Providence but in Grand Bahama.

He called for those responsible do their jobs efficiently to ensure a true swift justice system.

“In the last few months, I found out that between 2008 and 2015, there are more than 200 magistrate civil appeals that have not been heard,” he said.

“These are matters that have been untouched in the registries of Freeport and Nassau for years. In many cases, those responsible have not been as diligent as they should have been.”

Meanwhile, Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson said swift justice has made some strides.

She said officials have seen significant improvements in the judicial system over the past four years and says 2015, was one of the best legal years in recent times.

“When I was appointed to the Office of the Attorney-General, this office secured convictions at a rate of 31 per cent,” she said.

“In 2015, this rate has doubled to 63 per cent, an accomplishment not possible without the commitment and sacrifice of our hardworking prosecutors. In 2012, only 118 cases, roughly, were concluded in the Supreme Court. This past year, 228 cases were concluded. In 2012 no murder matters were concluded within one year of charge. This past year 7 murder matters were concluded within one year of charge. 2015 was a most productive year. This shows that the system can and does work when cases are properly managed.”

The attorney general said while 2015 was a good year it was simply not enough.

She also said she set extremely high standards for 2015 and for that she has no regret.

In fact, she said, those high standards are what lead to high numbers of concluded cases last year.

“The numbers are impressive but this is not about numbers, it is about people,” she said.

“It’s about families who have been able to feel the system working for them and hope for families who are waiting for their matters to be resolved. It is about mothers and fathers, families who are looking for justice. So while the progress is substantial – it is not enough. Last year, on this very occasion, I set a lofty goal for the disposal of 350 cases before the Supreme Court. I do not apologize for setting our sights so high it was the deeply held conviction that truly fundamental change is possible which drove us to conclude an additional 110 cases this year. And we now have the infrastructure and systems in place to meet even loftier targets and eliminate the backlog.”

Bahamas Bar Association President Ellsworth Johnson also gave remarks and agreed with both the attorney-general and chief justice.

The ceremony was followed by a reception at the foreign affairs grounds on East Street Hill.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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