Chief justice urges new JPs to treat role seriously
Barrington Flemming, Gleaner Writer
WESTERN BUREAU:Chief Justice Zaila McCalla has said if more work is done in communities to address disputes, there could be a marked reduction in the number of criminal and civil cases brought before the formal court system.
The chief justice made the statement while addressing the ceremony to commission 33 new justices of the peace in St James last Thursday.
"The reform of the justice system is gaining momentum and each citizen has a vital role to play in its improvement," said McCalla. If more matters are addressed at the community level, an escalation of disputes to the formal legal system may be avoided, which would ultimately save time and costs would be reduce."
In her charge to the new justices of the peace, McCalla urged them to keep abreast of initiatives being undertaken by the justice ministry in the reform process designed to improve efficiency and restore harmonious relations in communities.
"As newly commissioned justices of the peace, you are now stakeholders within the justice system, and you should take time to acquaint yourselves with all aspects of the system - mediation, restorative justice, child diversion and many other initiatives spearheaded by the Ministry of Justice as part of the process of reform in our country," McCalla said. "... all these initiatives are geared at reducing the number of civil and criminal cases coming into the system, as well as restoring peace and harmony in our communities."
The chief justice also urged the justices of the peace to keep abreast of the recent development and changes in the law governing the roles of the justice of the peace, who are being called upon to play greater roles in the judicial system.
"You should keep abreast of recent developments or changes in law that govern your jurisdiction based on the greater role you will be required to play in our judicial system," said McCalla.
Beware of criminals
In looking at the matter of corruption, McCalla said while corruption is pervasive across the world and in Jamaica, justices of the peace must ensure that their actions are beyond reproach. Additionally, they should take greater care in carrying out their functions, especially with criminals becoming more sophisticated in their actions.
"No doubt, you are also aware that criminals are becoming more sophisticated and more brazen, and this places additional burden on us all to be more vigilant and to exercise greater care in performing such duties as vetting documents carefully," said McCalla. "In many instances, there have been attempts to deprive elderly citizens of their property by the use of fraudulent documents."
In speaking of the need for integrity, the chief justice told the newcomers that they should never act in a way to compromise the excellent standards to which they have been held by their community and country.