Sat | Jan 16, 2021

Wrong blame for judges - Attorney defends members of the Bench against tardy judgment charges

Published:Friday | January 19, 2018 | 12:00 AMBarbara Gayle

Veteran attorney Maurice Long has come out in defence of the nation's judges, who he says are being criticised about the delays in delivering judgments but are not given the tools to do the job.

"Give the judges the tools to work and stop talking rubbish," declared Long.

"I think we have excellent judges, very competent judges, and I have the utmost respect for them," added Long, who has been practising for more than 40 years.




He said that people were hesitant to come forward and speak out about the flaws in the justice system because they were either afraid, or they don't care.

"I am not a political person, but I am so upset with what is happening in the justice system," said Long, as he pointed to a proposal that he had made in August 2013 to alleviate the problem of long delays in the delivery of judgments.

The attorney charged that the authorities have ignored his proposal, which is not costly and would have been beneficial to judges and other persons who come in contact with the justice system.

He said that having constantly experienced delays in having civil cases processed, he made enquiries and discovered that many of the judges did not have judicial clerks to assist them.

"In order to assist the judges ... the Ministry of Justice could recruit fresh graduates from the Norman Manley Law School, say two per judge, for a period of two years with one each rotating as the judge's clerk, and to assist the respective judges in their research, thereby allowing the registry staff to concentrate on administrative matters only.

"The age-old excuse of no money could be got around by working out an arrangement with the Students' Loan Bureau that the incentive for these persons to come for two-year stints is that the interest on their loans could be discounted for that period with payments to the bureau by way of salary deductions from students' salaries," said Long, as he added that after the two years the loan repayments would go back to their original schedule.




"We are sure that with the abundance of graduates, this would find favour with students, have the complement and efficiency of the registry increased, and be of assistance to judges in the earlier arrival of judgments being delivered, and of course, increase the learning experience of the graduates," said Long.

He told The Sunday Gleaner that he has contacted the Students' Loan Bureau, which has indicated that it has no objection in principle to his proposal, but it has not been contacted by the justice ministry.

According to Long, he presented his proposal to former Justice Minister Mark Golding who did not respond, and current Justice Minister Delroy Chuck who has said it will be considered.

Chuck has since indicated that steps are being taken to increase the court staff, including judicial clerks.ox: Long's simple fixes for the justice system

My present comment is that if the Government wants the system to work then it must fix the underlying problems before blaming the Judges.

Also, if there is a shortage of space then consider the following:

The former Attorney General's office which was allowed to be scrapped in broad day light. This building has parking space allocation on Church Street.

The old KIG building which became the Pearnell Charles Arcade and was gutted by fire on Church Street.

Why can't the Ministry of Justice be relocated to the Cable and Wireless building on Duke Street, instead of paying a horrendous rent at its present location?

Why can't we get grant money from the Canadians for example, to do this as they have already injected money in the training of staff?