Audit to reveal extent of courts' backlogs
Barbara Gayle, Staff Reporter
THERE IS to be an audit to get an accurate figure of the huge backlog of cases in the nation's courts.
Senior puisne judge Gloria Smith made the disclosure on Wednesday after she officially opened the Easter session of the Home Circuit Court.
Smith said the chief justice had discussions with the Ministry of Justice and the decision was taken that there should be an audit. She said it was suspected that an accurate figure was not being given of the backlog.
There are 613 cases listed for trial in the new session, which ends in July. There are 346 murder cases and 129 sexual offence cases. The previous term had 625 cases for trial, 65 were disposed of and 560 were traversed to this term, which has 53 new cases on the list.
One of the reasons for the backlog, according to Smith, was that many cases, including civil and criminal, were coming into the system at a rapid rate and there was a lack of resources to deal with the situation.
She said the public was not concerned about the vast number of cases in the system, but each litigant was concerned about getting his or her case disposed of expeditiously.
The Regional Gun Court in St James has 184 cases and Smith said the backlog of cases in that court was due to the unavailability of ballistics certificates. She is hoping the situation will be improved because the Forensic Laboratory now has new equipment.
Justice Smith commended the police for making great effort to bring prisoners to court on time. She also thanked the jurors for coming out to serve, but said, during the orientation of the jurors the day before, she was disappointed to see the small number of jurors who had turned up.
She referred to the multiple murder cases and said she did not know how much was going to be achieved if there was insufficiency of jurors. She called for attempts to be made to get extra jurors.
Smith called on all stakeholders in the system to pull their weight in order to improve the situation.