Court to hear Myrie's case locally next March
Barbara Gayle, Justice Coordinator
THE DECISION yesterday by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to sit in Jamaica for the first time to hear the Shanique Myrie case has been described by representatives from both sides of the political divide as a welcome move.
The CCJ will sit in Jamaica from March 4 to 12.
Attorney General Patrick Atkinson, QC, has said that he was pleasantly surprised to see that in a first-instance proceedings, the CCJ is prepared to come here. He pointed out that the same situation would apply if the CCJ was Jamaica's final appellate court.
The Government has tabled a bill in the House of Representatives seeking to abolish appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and to make the CCJ Jamaica's final appellate court.
With the Government having a two-thirds majority in the House, the bill is almost certain of passage there. However, the Government will have to sway at least one Opposition member in the Senate and have all its members vote aye to secure the passage of the bill.
The Opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has insisted that the issue of abolishing appeals to the Privy Council must be put to the people in the form of a referendum. However, the Government has said such a move is not necessary.
Yesterday, Opposition Spokesman on Justice Delroy Chuck said having the CCJ sit in Jamaica for the Myrie case "is a good public relations move by the CCJ to get Jamaicans to support the CCJ as their final appellate court".
He said further that it "will go a far way to assist Jamaicans to decide in favour of the CCJ if and when the Government decides to call a referendum on the issue".
HOPING MOVE BECOMES TREND
Chuck said he hoped that in the immediate future, other first-instance matters like the Myrie case would be heard in the respective territories.
Myrie has taken the Barbadian government to the CCJ on allegations that she was assaulted by an immigration officer last year.
The court had a case-management hearing yesterday by way of video link and the trial dates were set before the CCJ judges.
Myrie's lawyer, Michelle Brown, asked for the first part of the trial to be held in Jamaica because it will be too costly for Jamaican witnesses to travel to Barbados and Trinidad.
She says the CCJ's panel of judges will be coming in March and the hearings will be held either at the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeal.
The second part of the hearing will be from March 18-22 in Barbados and the lawyers will make oral submissions in Trinidad from April 8-9.
Brown said the CCJ was anxious to have matter heard and completed early. She said the case has been progressing expeditiously.