Prepare for your cases - Chief Justice
Chief Justice Zaila McCalla has said the staging of child justice guideline training seminars for attorneys-at-law by the Office of the Children's Advocate (OCA) will play a major role in the dispensing of justice for persons involved in those cases.
Speaking at a seminar at the Melia Braco Village Resorts in Trelawny last Saturday, Justice McCalla said there is a great need for issues relating to children who are involved in the justice system to be adequately addressed, and the training of attorneys will help the process.
"There continues to be a pressing need to address the challenges faced by our children who come in contact with the justice system in whatever capacity - victims, witnesses and accused - so it is very necessary for us to have these seminars in order for us to be sensitised to perform our duties when vulnerable groups in general come before our courts, and to be aware of best practices in relation to children," she said.
Justice McCalla said that in a changing world, and with the advent of social media, stakeholders at all levels of the justice system need to be constantly trained and sensitised in order to bring about efficiencies.
"Without a doubt, we will be better able to serve the needs of our nation's children when we are aware of the many challenges that arise in our court system in dealing with those matters," she noted.
Meanwhile, Justice McCalla urged court clerks to ensure that they are fully prepared for the cases which they are called on to present before the courts.
"Cases have been dismissed because young children were not fully prepared. I have had telephone calls from at least two members of the Bar saying it gives them no pleasure when guilty persons walk free, but they are doing their jobs. So, as clerks of court, you have to be mindful of that and prepare your cases thoroughly and see that your witnesses or your victims are properly prepared," McCalla said.
The training for attorneys-at-law was the third to be staged by the Office of the Children's Advocate, with sessions already held for judges of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, and the parish court judges.