Case-management system not effective
THE CRIMINAL case-management system, introduced more than two years ago in an effort to speed up the judicial process, is not having the desired effect and there are contrasting views about why it is not working.
From the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the blame is being placed at the feet of defence lawyers, but senior attorney and vice-president of the Jamaican Bar Association Valerie Neita-Robertson is challenging that claim.
"The criminal case-management system is quite an ideal system ... (and) if we had cooperation from all the stakeholders, it would be very effective.
"The difficulty is that it is not working as it should," Lisa Palmer Hamilton, senior deputy DPP, told a recent Gleaner Editors' Forum.
"What we are finding is that even when the case management courts are going on ... the forms that are to be filled out by defence counsel ... they are leaving them blank," added Palmer Hamilton as she argued that the system can only work with the cooperation of all the stakeholders.
Palmer Hamilton was supported by DPP Paula Llewellyn who noted that there was no law requiring attorneys to comply or cooperate.
But Neita-Robertson told The Gleaner that the system as introduced is not practical.
"It is a total waste of time. It is not working because neither the prosecution nor the defence have prepared their material before hand," said Neita-Robertson as she pointed to what she described as the inadequate nature of the case- management forms.
"Case management can only work if you have prepared, so you know what is missing ... so you know what you need and you know what is available. It cannot work any other way," added Neita-Robertson.
She said defence counsels have no desire to short-circuit the criminal case-management scheme, but they disagree with any proposal to disclose their witnesses to the prosecutors under this system
According to Neita-Robertson, the case-management system should be restructured to a system where lawyers face each other and work out where prosecutors and defence are in each case.
"But filling out this little piece of form ... it takes you absolutely nowhere," added Neita-Robertson.