'Ministry of Injustice' - Judge bemoans lack of courtroom space at St James Parish Court
High Court Justice Glen Brown has taken the Ministry of Justice to task for failing to create additional courtroom space for the St James Parish Court despite several appeals over the past few years for extra facilities to help reduce the court's backlog of cases.
Brown was quite scathing in his criticism of the justice ministry as he presided over Monday's opening sitting of the St James Circuit Court's Michaelmas session.
"The greatest impediment to justice is the Ministry of Justice," said a clearly frustrated Brown. "For four years, we recommended that they put in additional courtrooms on this building, and the persons at the ministry told me there is no space."
According to Brown, there needs to be more sittings of the court, as under the current arrangement, the heavy backlog of cases will not be cleared up.
"What we need is to have a judge sitting here five days a week, outside of the Western Regional Gun Court judge, so we can clear up the list of cases. We are not the cause of the backlog; we can only do so much and no more," said Brown.
PLANS TO EXPAND FACILITIES
Justice Minister Delroy Chuck told The Gleaner last week Wednesday that his ministry would be seeking bidders to draw up architectural plans for additional courtroom space at the St James Parish Court, in keeping with his announcement in February that a section of the adjoining Montego Bay No. 1 Post Office would be utilised for that purpose.
The St James Circuit Court's Michaelmas and Remanent sessions, which will continue over the next eight weeks, will hear a total of 231 cases, of which 186 will be heard during the Michaelmas session. Based on past experiences, it is widely expected that only a small number of the cases will be disposed of.
The breakdown of the cases are as follows: lottery scamming - 77, murder - 60, and sexual offence - 55.