Case pile-up! - Only 12% of cases disposed of during Hilary term
The Hilary term of the Home Circuit Court opened in January with a total of 626 cases listed for trial. However, when the term ended last Friday, after 88 days of sittings, only 83 of those cases, or 12 per cent, were disposed of, figures compiled by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) have revealed.
The result is that 584 cases, which include 291 for murder and 206 for sexual offences, will be rolled over to the Easter term, scheduled to start next Wednesday.
"The chickens have come home to roost in terms of the capacity of the court being really overwhelmed by the amount of cases," said Paula Llewellyn, the director of public prosecutions.
The Home Circuit Court, located in downtown Kingston, comprises four dedicated courtrooms for criminal matters.
However, according to the ODPP, 51 of the 83 cases that were disposed of, or 61 per cent, ended with a conviction. Among them were nine convictions for murder and 36 for sexual offences.
Twenty-five cases ended with acquittals, the ODPP entered a nolle prosequi in three cases, bench warrants were issued in three cases, while one accused person died before his trial started.
DECLINED TO COMMENT
Justice Minister Delroy Chuck, who has announced plans to hire more judges and prosecutors, as well as to increase the number of courtrooms used for circuit trials, declined to comment when contacted yesterday.
Llewellyn, however, explained that a lot of these cases are ready for trial "but we just don't have the space (courtrooms) to try them." She said this problem is compounded by the fact that some trials last for several weeks.
"Look at the matter involving Collis Brown (so-called police death squad trial) that took about five weeks. It means that courtroom is knocked out of operation for about five weeks," she shared with The Gleaner.
"So when you have one case occupying the court for more than two or three weeks, you are going to have a situation where no other case can be tried."
Total number of cases traversed to the Hilary term 476
- New Committals 150
Total number of cases at commencement of Hilary Term 626
Number of cases added to list during the Hilary Term
- Voluntary bill of indictment 28
- Transfers from rural circuits 1
- Court of Appeal retrials 0
- Files committed during the Term 10
- Transfers from Coroner's Court 0
- Other 2
Breakdown of cases disposed of during the Hilary term
- Number of Convictions 51
- Number of Acquittals 25
- Number of Nolle Prosequi 3
- Remitted 0
- Accused Deceased 1
- Bench Warrant 3
- Other 0
Total number of cases disposed of 83
Cases at the end of the Hilary term 584
Total number of cases traversed to the Easter Term (which starts April 19)
Breakdown of traversed cases
- Murder 291
- Attempted murder 3
- Manslaughter 8
- Trafficking in person 4
- Wounding with intent 15
- Causing grievous bodily harm with intent 5
- Assault occasioning grievous bodily harm 2
- Fraudulently inducing persons to invest 2
- Causing Death By Dangerous Driving 2
- Burglary 2
- Abduction 17
- Breaches of the law reform (Misc.Prov.) Act 4
- Participation in criminal organisation 2
- Letters threatening to murder 1
- Forgery of access device 2
- Possession of identity information 5
- Forgery and conspiracy to defraud 1
- Assets recovery (Misc.Prov.) Act 10
Subtotal of traversed cases 378
- Rape 110
- Carnal abuse 7
- Indecent assault 6
- Incest 4
- Buggery 10
- Sexual touching 0
- Sexual intercourse with a person under 16 years 67
- Gross Indecency 2
Subtotal of traversed sexual offences 206
Total number of cases to be traversed 584
*Prepared by DPP/Home Circuit Administrative Unit