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Outsourcing of Juror Summons Will Be A Financial Burden- Golding

Published:Sunday | January 17, 2016 | 4:39 PMAndre Poyser

Minister of Justice, Senator Mark Golding, has said that a proposal for the outsourcing of juror summonses could prove costly and would have to examined more closely.

The suggestion for the outsourcing of issuing summonses was highlighted by noted defence attorney, Valerie Neita-Robertson, in an article published in The Gleaner on January 16.

According to Neita-Robertson, "Recommendations were made by attorneys and by a well-known task force that the process be carried out by a private company or, alternatively, that the summonses be divided among, for example, the 45 police stations in Kingston and St Andrew for service. The principle is that it is easier for 45 to serve 10 than for two to serve 400."

The attorney-at-law contends that the problem of the shortage of jurors could have been addressed by outsourcing the issuing of jury summonses rather than reducing the number of jurors who serve on a jury.

Amendments to the Jury Act, passed last year, reduced the number of jurors from 12 to seven, a move that Neita-Robertson believes amounts to a whittling away of the trial-by-jury system in Jamaica.

Golding has, however, pointed out that a consideration to outsource the issuing of summons will have attendant costs.

"The costs associated with it would have to be considered, as to who would bear those costs because, currently, the police serve the summonses and we don't have to pay for it. It doesn't cost the Ministry of Justice, but if we outsource, it we would have to pay the private sector to serve the summonses and there is no provision in the budget for that," he told The Gleaner.

Neita-Robertson has argued that "one of the problems causing this shortage is that a singular department in the Jamaica Constable Force designated with the onerous task of serving 200-500 summonses for jurors. This was always an impossible task, especially when there is only one or two police personnel designated to serve, and one police vehicle assigned to travel the length and breadth of the parish to carry out the task of services."