Public Defender Concerned about Proposed Reduction in Jury Trials

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.

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.

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.

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

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