Jerome Reynolds, Gleaner Writer
At least one prominent defence attorney is against calls by the leadership of the Jamaican Bar Association for the abolition of preliminary enquiries in the court system.
The association said that doing away with the enquiries, would go a long way in reducing delays and by extension cutting the backlog of cases.
It further said it would prevent the double exposure of witnesses.
However, Jacqueline Samuels-Brown said any gains that could be achieved by abolishing preliminary enquiries would have little impact, if shortfalls in the justice system are not addressed.
Samuels-Brown, who is the immediate past president of the bar association, is of the view that preliminary enquiries are essential, as they allow a judge to assess if there is sufficient evidence for a matter to proceed.
She further said the procedure allows for better preservation of evidence and that, during preliminary enquiries, defendants get the opportunity to hear the case against them before trial.
Samuels-Brown pointed out that figures from the National Security Ministry, indicate that the delays in trials are largely due to prosecutors not being ready, resulting in the judges granting them multiple adjournments.
She said the 2007 Report of the Judicial Review Task Force, had noted that the enquiries should not be abolished until shortfalls at the prosecutorial authorities are fixed.