Public Defender Concerned about Proposed Reduction in Jury Trials

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Public Defender, Arlene Harrison Henry, is expressing concern that further reducing the involvement of jury in the criminal justice system could hurt the country’s democracy.

She’s joining the debate over changing the law so a single judge would be able to try noncapital murder cases in which a gun is used; eliminating the need for a jury.

Attorney General, Marlene Malahoo Forte, says the government intends to change the Gun Court Act to facilitate this.

She believes it’d help reduce the backlog of cases in the court. But Mrs. Harrison Henry doesn’t like the idea.

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She’s dismissing claims that the move will reduce the case backlog in the court.

Mrs. Harrison Henry says the rate of conviction in court matters depends on the quality of investigation conducted by the police.

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In the meantime, a former Commissioner of Police, Owen Ellington, is in favour of the government’s intention.

Mr. Ellington says jury trials are not efficient.

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Mr. Ellington says many jurors — who are fearful of criminals — fail to give guilty verdicts.

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Mr Ellington says using judges only for noncapital murder trials would speed up cases and reduce interference of the process.

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Stevian Simmonds is an investigative journalist with almost 3 years of experience in radio broadcasting, production and reporting. She graduated from Caribbean School of Media and Communication in 2014 and joined Nationwide News in 2016. In 2018, she produced a special report examining the working conditions of the Bussiness Process Outsourcing Industry. She worked undercover as a call center agent for a month, revealing the lack of data protection and general security infrastructure in the industry. Her report also highlighted the poor working conditions and remuneration faced by workers in the industry. In 2018, Stevian traveled to New Delhi India where she participated in the Inaugural WHO Partners Forum benefiting from critical training related to reporting on women’s and children’s health issues.