Gov’t to overhaul jury trial offences
Monique Grange, Assistant News Editor
The Gleaner/Power 106 News Centre
Minister of National Security Peter Bunting says legislative changes are being considered which are aimed at reducing the number of offences that are tried by a jury.
He said the measure would also seek to address the culture of fear where witnesses are afraid to testify in court especially in murder cases.
According to him, that culture of fear has resulted in low conviction rates in murder cases against gang members or known criminals.
Bunting pointed out that some jurors are also fearful of serving in that capacity, as they sometimes face intimidation.
He said the Justice Minister Mark Golding has those legislative changes high on his to do list.
The national security minister insists the amendments will be made despite opposition from defence lawyers, who may think such changes will reduce their success rate.
Last week, judges assigned to the Circuit Court in St. James raised concern about what they described as the overwhelming number of not-guilty verdicts returned by juries in recent times.
They claimed that even in cases where the evidence was strong, the defendants were found not guilty.
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