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National security minister bashes 'vulgar manipulation' of the justice system - Says measures needed to prevent long delay of cases

Published:Friday | July 31, 2015 | 7:00 AMChristopher Thomas
National Security Minister Peter Bunting

WESTERN BUREAU:

Minister of National Security Peter Bunting has said that measures must be implemented to aid quicker resolution of cases that come before the courts, and to bring an end to the ongoing problem of cases being put off for lengthy periods without conclusion.

"We have a culture of adjournment that has developed in our court system, and that only serves criminals, that does not serve justice," Bunting said at a stakeholders' meeting with the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, yesterday, to address the rising crime in the St James police division.

"There was a report in the media a few weeks ago about someone who allegedly committed multiple murders in 2006; while in remand in 2010, he was charged for ordering more murders from prison, and in 2015, nine years after the original multiple murders were committed, the case was postponed again because a lawyer is being changed. That is not justice; that is, to my mind, a vulgar manipulation of the justice system," said Bunting.

Elaborating further, Bunting said that the police, prosecutors, defence attorneys, and even judges were given equal blame for the slow process in which cases are resolved.

"Some people will say that the police do not complete their investigations quickly enough. Some will say that the prosecution does not have the resources to advance all the cases all the time," the minister noted. "Others will tell you that the defence attorneys have all sorts of delaying tactics and courtroom guile to prevent their clients from facing justice. Others say that the judges must manage the court ... and that they need to stop accepting some of the excuses that are being given by either prosecutors or defence attorneys."

 

Plea bargaining

 

Bunting suggested that the use of plea bargaining could be employed to resolve cases more quickly and thus prevent a backlog.

"We are putting in stronger incentives for plea bargaining. If persons at their first court appearance plead guilty, where the facts are on the table, they can get up to a two-thirds reduction in their sentence," he said.

President of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Gloria Henry, said that the chamber would be partnering with the University of the West Indies to do an empirical study on the root causes of crime in the St James division, to better curtail criminal activities in the division.