Debate on Evidence Act suspended
Livern Barrett, Gleaner Writer
The debate in the Upper House on proposed changes to the Evidence Act was brought to a screeching halt today after some legislators raised concerns that one of the suggested amendments would place accused persons at a grave disadvantage.
While expressing broad support for a bill that seeks to enact far-reaching changes to the Evidence Act, some government and opposition Senators took issue with plans to repeal subsection G of section 31 of the existing legislation, which deals with computer-generated evidence.
That subsection states that where a document tendered into evidence is produced by a computer, it shall be presumed, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that the computer was, at all material times, working properly.
Government Senator and veteran criminal defense attorney K.D. Knight believes such a move would remove the burden of proof now placed on prosecutors and shift that evidentiary burden to an accused person.
While noting that the proposed changes to the Evidence Act was part of the government's strategy to further reduce the 16 per cent decline in murders, another government Senator, Lambert Brown, urged his colleagues to tread carefully.
The concerns prompted Leader of Government Business in the Senate, A.J. Nicholson, to request an adjournment to allow for consultations on the issue.
After a second adjournment, Justice Minister Mark Golding, who is piloting the bill through the Senate, relented.
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