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Delroy Chuck vows to fix it - Justice minister determined to speed up system

Published:Sunday | April 3, 2016 | 4:00 AMBarbara Gayle

Justice Minister Delroy Chuck has added his voice to the thousands of other Jamaicans expressing concerns about the slow pace at which judgments are being delivered in the Supreme Court.

"I think the delays in the justice system are bringing it into disrepute, and the people are losing trust and confidence in bringing their disputes to the courts," Chuck told The Sunday Gleaner late last week.

"Judges must do what their name imply, that is to judge, and to judge speedily," said Chuck.

He argued that there is no doubt that the chief justice will have to lay down guidelines for judges.

The justice minister noted that in many countries there are guidelines for judgments to be delivered within 30 days but not beyond 60 days.

He said at an appropriate time he will be urging and asking the judges not only to hear cases expeditiously but also to deliver judgments in a timely manner.

"It is a matter, as the new justice minister, that I will have to attend to, and I intend to do so," added Chuck less than 48 hours after Chief Justice Zaila McCalla announced that several measures are being pursued to reduce delays in matters before the courts.

 

PROCESS OF REFORMATION

 

Speaking at the swearing-in of judges and a master-in-chambers at King's House last Wednesday, McCalla said the strategies are intended to streamline the system, thereby reducing the length of time for matters to be resolved.

"We must lead the process of change in the culture of delay endemic in our justice system," said McCalla as she urged members of the justice system to collaborate to drive the process of reformation.

Days after the announcement by the chief justice, our news team asked Chuck to comment on a case in which Julian Gordon-Reid of a Kingston address charged that her cries for justice are not being heard.

Gordon-Reid has been waiting since October 2013 to get damages assessed in her case.

She had filed a suit in 2008 against Woman Sergeant E. Halliman and the attorney general. The defendants accepted liability and the case was set for assessment of damages.

According to attorney-at-law Gail English, the matter was heard on October 17, 2013 and judgment was reserved.

English explained that the hearing was to determine the quantum of damages to be paid to her client who had filed a suit in 2008 seeking compensation for false imprisonment, trespass to the person, assault and battery.

"I am disgusted and fed up that I cannot hear anything about my case," Gordon-Reid told The Sunday Gleaner.

According to Gordon-Reid, she was about to board a flight to London on November 30, 2002 when the police called her from the departure lounge of the Norman Manley International Airport.

She said the police told her she had to do a test and she was subsequently taken to the Kingston Public Hospital.

She said in court documents that she was handcuffed to a bed that had no sheet and "was crawling with cockroaches".

Gordon-Reid said she was denied a phone call to her relatives to inform them of her plight and she could not sleep all night because she was terrified of the cockroaches and the handcuff was very tight.

The next morning, she was giving laxative and was escorted to the bathroom to defecate. An X-ray was also done but she was not informed of the results. She was subsequently taken to the Narcotics Division where she was released without charge.

According to Gordon-Reid, since the incident, her life has not been the same as she now suffers from depression and anxiety.

"My bills are piling up and my husband died five years ago and I have no one to help me," she said.

But what hurts her most is that since her ordeal, more than 13 years ago, she has not been able to get any redress from the court. "Right now, I am crying for justice," she declared.

barbara.gayle@gleanerjm.com