Wed | Dec 19, 2018

Sykes chides judges

Published:Friday | May 18, 2018 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett/ Senior Gleaner Writer
From left: Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn; Justice Minister Delroy Chuck; Canadian High Commissioner Laurie Peters; senior parish court judge Opal Smith and Chief Justice Bryan Sykes about to enter the customer service area at the Corporate Area Parish Court (Civil Division) Sutton Street. Kingston. The occasion was the launch of customer service centres in the parish courts islandwide.

Chief Justice Bryan Sykes has described as unacceptable the fact that over the 15-month period, from January last year to March this year, judges at the Supreme Court handed down decisions in 27 per cent of the cases in which they reserved judgment.

The nation's top jurist has warned, too, that judges at all levels of the judiciary must accept that their performance would be measured.

"We have developed measurable time standards when it comes to performance, and all persons, including judges at all levels, must accept that performance is measurable and will be measured," Sykes said yesterday during the launch of a new customer service centre at the civil division of the Corporate Area Parish Court, located on Sutton Street in downtown Kingston.

The Gleaner first reported on Monday that between January 1 last year and the first quarter of this year, judgments were reserved in a total of 148 cases at the Supreme Court. However, according to figures provided by the Court Management Services, judgments were delivered in 40 of those cases, leaving 108 decisions outstanding.

"Whatever the reasons may be, that is clearly not an acceptable standard," Sykes noted. He said that the figures were taken from statistics compiled by the court on the performance of judges. "These are things that the public have a right to know."

"As the legal system consumes a small (some would say too small), but increasing amount of public funds, the public have every right to expect improved performance," the chief justice insisted.

Sykes said that to achieve this, judges and other stakeholders in the judiciary must realign their resources, retool their internal processes, and re-examine their work flow.

He said that to give meaning to the court's mission statement of a 'Timely Delivery of a High Standard of Justice for All', there must be a commitment to standards that were known, objective, and measurable.

"At times we will fall short, although we hope not to do so frequently, but we are committed to publishing these standards and declaring when we fall short," said the chief justice.