Categorized | National News

Greater Diligence Needed For Judicial Duties

Greater diligence is needed when carrying out judicial duties, according to Court of Appeal President Justice Anita Allen.

Justice Allen said as much during the opening of the High Court last week.

“It is incumbent on us, to do more to ensure that the negative perception which hangs over us does not continue, by showing greater diligence in carrying out our duties; making certain that every decision we make, is consonant with the evidence and the applicable law and is cogently and well-reasoned,” she said.

“Moreover any excess delay in the delivery of judgments is lamentable and should be urgently and robustly dealt with. The timely delivery of judgments is an integral part of our duties as judges and if left unattended, brings our accountability into serious question.”

She said the provision of law clerks or research counsel may help the process of delivering judgments.

“But where there is a more fundamental cause for the delay, such as writer’s block or difficulty in making decisions or lack of writing skills, these will require training and perhaps even counselling,” Justice Allen said.

“We can further improve the public’s perception of us by ensuring that we appear to hear and understand each and every voice which seeks justice before us. And that we are not seen to make false assumptions based on cultural or gender differences. I suggest that these matters which may impinge on judicial accountability may be addressed primarily by judicial education and training which we all accept is the key to ensuring high standards of judicial performance, a standard which the public has a right to expect.”

Justice Allen added that if the judiciary had been more “punctilious” about its accountability, the public would not be so readily inclined to blame the court system.

She said it was not her intention to scold or defend the judiciary, but that as judges, they have not done enough to ensure that they are seen to be accountable to the people they continue to serve.

“I venture that it may be because of this seeming lack of accountability that the perception that we are responsible for the spiraling crime due to our supposed liberal and capricious granting of bails, persists,” she said.

“Indeed, the public would have been aware that bail, pending trial, is a constitutional right secured to persons accused of committing criminal offences where they have not been tried within a reasonable time. Surely, the public would have known that the discretion to grant bail is grounded in the most important legal presumption also enshrined in our constitution, that a person is innocent until proven guilty.”

She added that the public would have been inclined to inquire as to how many people granted bail have been awaiting trial beyond the constitutionally mandated period and are therefore constitutionally entitled to bail before apportioning blame.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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