Over the next three months, High Court Judges will face the daunting task of trying to preside over a thousand cases in the Home Circuit Court in downtown, Kingston.
The Easter Term of the Court opened yesterday.
Most of the matters to be heard in the current term were brought over from the previous term, renewing concerns about the timely disposal of matters in the high court.
A mere 8-per cent of the matters in the previous term were completed.
The significant number of cases in the Easter term has led Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Jeremy Taylor, to suggest it might be time for Resident Circuit Judges to be assigned at the parish level.
The Deputy DPP says it might also be time to consider continuous circuit courts in every parish.
Tauna Thomas reports
Only 91 cases were disposed of during the last term of the Home Circuit Court.
This has resulted in 1-thousand and 24 cases traversing to this Easter term which will end on July 31.
When added to the 25 new matters, Home Circuit Court Judges will in the next 3-months try to hear 1-thousand and 49 cases.
Deputy DPP Taylor says not even Hercules with his twelve labourers could manage to hear all the matters listed for the current term.
He says with this significant number of cases, it might be time to rethink how the Circuit Court is organised.
The Deputy DPP is calling on the authorities to consider a continuous circuit court system and the assignment of Resident Circuit Judges in every parish.
Meanwhile, Mr. Taylor is also raising concerns about the high number of fatal offences.
Over 5-hundred and 70 of the matters listed for this term are in relation to death by murder, manslaughter and dangerous driving.
Of that number, 5-hundred and 58 are murders.
Sexual offences follow with 3-hundred and 75 cases.
The majority of these matters are rape at 2-hundred and nine and sexual intercourse with a person under 16-years-old at 1-hundred and 10.
The Deputy DPP says he has always paid keen attention to the fact that sexual offences make up a majority of the cases in certain parishes outside of the Corporate Area.
He highlighted this issue in parishes such as St. Catherine, St. Thomas, Portland and St. Mary.
Mr. Taylor says in St. Catherine some 50-per cent of the matters were related to sexual offences.
The Deputy DPP stressed the need for some form of policy initiative to address this issue.
In the meantime…The Jamaica Bar Association’s President Emile Leiba says non-traditional methods of resolution to include the use of the Plea Bargaining will be necessary to speed up the disposal of cases.
Senior Attorney, Bert Samuels, who also offered his feedback says he’s almost depressed by the number of cases set for trial.
A frustrated Mr. Samuels says in one of his matters he was told the next available trial date was November 2021.
Justice Lorna Shelly-Williams who presided over yesterday’s proceedings says all the tools available including trial by Judge must be used to create a dent in the system.
Justice Shelly-Williams told the court she’s hoping 4-hundred of the 1-thousand and 49 matters will be heard during this term.