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'Shape up'

Published:Friday | January 8, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Barbara Gayle, Staff Reporter

Chief Justice Zaila McCalla has made it very clear that under criminal case management which came into effect yesterday, the justice system will no longer tolerate the situation in which adjournments are granted because of outstanding statements on court files.

The chief justice, in opening the Hilary session of the Home Circuit Court which runs from January 7 to March 26, outlined the new practice directions governing Circuit Courts and the Gun Court.

"A more fulsome prepara-tion of cases by the crown and the defence will be required at an early stage," she said.

The chief justice has also issued a stern warning that the system would no longer have a situation where at the 11th hour a jury had to stand down for a day while evidence of an expert was being sought.

"All these will have to be provided for and ascertained before the trial commences," she added.

Case management is geared towards reducing the huge backlog of cases in the Circuit Courts and Gun Court.

This term the Home Circuit Court has 411 cases, 41 of which are new cases, while the remainder have traversed from the Michaelmas session, which ran from September 16 to December 18 last year. The chief justice pointed out that the high crime rate was also responsible for the increase in the court list.

Divorce matters

She gave the assurance that attempts were being made to reduce the long wait for the orders in divorce petitions to be granted. Divorce cases are granted in chambers and the chief justice said preparations were in place for some of the divorce matters to be vetted on Saturdays.

Progression Officer Marlon Bennett has the responsibility to ensure that defence lawyers are provided with statements and documents before case-management dates are set.

The practice directions for the Gun Court state that in order to alleviate crowding in the cells on Fridays, cases would be mentioned on three days each week.

Traversed cases in the Home Circuit Court will be mentioned on Friday mornings while new cases will be mentioned on Friday afternoons.