One-on-one with the chief justice
What have you done to enhance training opportunities in the court system?
Training is my passion. I have even been criticised that I have had too many training sessions. I get assistance from our international partners sometimes because we do not have the resources to do it. With the passage of new laws, we have to improve customer service in our courts.
What about training of judges?
With the advent of technology, new legislation, including the Proceed of Crime Act and the use of technology to commit crimes, money laundering, all these things have implications. If the director of public prosecutions is training prosecutors, we also need to train and sensitise judges so we can have successful prosecutions.
What are some of the other training programmes you would like to implement?
I would like to see the establishment of our own judicial education training institute because we have a Justice Training Institute, but that is under the Ministry of Justice.
Q. Do constitutional matters take precedence over other matters?
Generally, we try to deal with them in a timely manner within the context of the other matters that we have.
Q. Was the justice system caught flat-footed, underestimating how litigious Jamaicans would become and, hence, unprepared for the backlog in the system?
That's the understatement of the year.
If there is a concern that some judges are seen as advocate judges favouring some issues, do you tell them to to them leave certain issues alone?
The chief justice has never interfered with judges in their judicial capacity. It would be improper. Administratively, yes, but never in their judicial functions.
Q. Do judges ever say 'Chief Justice, I can't do this anymore. It is taking me away from my family and I don't want this anymore'?
Jamaica is really blessed to have persons of the calibre we have as our judges - dedicated. The vast majority deliver judgments on time and they work night and day under adverse circumstances and for low pay.
What is your position on judges continuing to wear black clothes?
Judging is serious business and you have to have some standard dress code. If you relax the rules, it may be construed as a free-for-all and it could detract from the dignity of the court. I am not saying that we shouldn't - we have changed the wig and gown - but we feel that there should be some minimum standard of dress, even in chambers.