Categorized | National News

Lawsuit Against AG Reaches Court

Criminal Defence attorneys, who have filed a lawsuit against Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson in the wake of stenographers being removed from the Magistrates Courts, appeared before Senior Supreme Court Justice Jon Issacs to have their matter heard yesterday.

During the hearing, lead spokesman for the group of Criminal Defence Attorneys Murio Ducille argued that there is no law that views the magistrate’s recordings as official and that a stenographer’s report is essential to a fair trial.

“The law states that the court reporters notes constitute the official record and this by virtue of section 102 of the Magistrate’s Act read in conjunction with section 77 of the Supreme Court Act which makes specific reference to that fact.”

He added that magistrates should not take court notes as they are not trained to do so.

“It would be too burdensome on the magistrate to take notes and at the same time be observing the witnesses’ demeanour to see whether in fact the witnesses are of veracity or not so obviously that is one aspect of it,” he said.

“Sub-section 8 of 77 of the Supreme Court Act clearly states that for a person to be a stenographer, that person has to be qualified.”

While outside of court, Grand Bahama Attorney Carlson Shurland said it is important for all lawyers to unite on this issue.

“If we continue to regress then the system slows down, the integrity of the proceeding becomes in question, the subjective views of a magistrate become the norm and what we want is to be able to look at things very objectively and fairly,” he said.

Since the court reporters have been removed, the magistrates have had to record the proceedings.

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.

He said if the ruling is not to their favour other means will be taken to have stenographers returned to the lower courts.

During the hearing, lead attorney for the prosecutions office Garvin Gaskins defended the magistrates’ ability to fully record court proceedings.

The Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson previously stated that repairing the current system remains a priority.

“My team and I are determined to do everything that is within our power to ensure that justice is seen to be done in The Bahamas and the system that is broken – the result of inordinate delays, adjournments etc, that are impacting both accused and victims –is fixed,” the attorney general said at the time. “We are expending all of our energies fixing a system that has been broken. We are determined on behalf of the Bahamian people that the system should be fixed.”

The attorney general maintained that the decision now to have court reporters in the lower courts is out of her hands and that digital recording would soon been implemented in the Magistrates court.

Meanwhile, the attorneys await the court’s ruling on the matter.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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