Tue | Apr 23, 2019

No long talking! Cross-examination times to be cut for court efficiency

Published:Monday | February 26, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Acting Chief Justice Bryan Sykes has indicated that a raft of changes to the way cases are managed in the nation's courts is on the horizon as part of efforts to achieve greater efficiency.

Among the measures mentioned by Sykes are reductions in cross-examination and advocacy times, which he said are sometimes unnecessarily long.

Sykes also spoke of a new data-collection system, which could inform how judges perform on certain cases, which, in turn, could impact how they are assigned to cases in the future.

Sykes was speaking on Saturday at a workshop on case flow management, held at Jewel Paradise Cove in Runaway Bay, St Ann.

The two-day workshop was part of the reform of the justice system and targeted court staff from across Jamaica such as clerks, deputy clerks, assistant clerks, case progression officers, data entry clerks, court administrators, among others.


Sykes said the functions of court administrators and judges are to be changed. Part of this change has to do with how cases are managed.

"As we go along, the days of long-winded advocacy are over. Talking for the sake of talking because we have the ability to speak, they are over. Lengthy, unnecessary cross-examination - over. All of these things take up valuable time. Cross-examining witnesses for two days with no apparent ending in sight and no aim in mind - over," Sykes said.

"We can't continue to do things in the way that we have been doing, and so the rules regarding case management, and so on, are there to help us to achieve it. What I'm talking about is a whole new way of doing things."

Sykes said that the collection and analysing of data are going to be crucial skills that court administrators need to acquire as they will have to sit with senior parish court judges to plan work for the year ahead instead of just the month ahead.

"You're now going to be a crucial part of the planning of the work of the court. We have to be looking at training to help us to help you to meet those standards.

"This is going to have implications for the management of human resources, how judges are assigned, which judges are assigned where and to what kind of cases. So the judge now is not just simply a person who has knowledge of the law, knowledge of evidence, but the judge is also a manager of resources, and time is one of the most precious resources that we have. A judge now has to be an effective manager."