Chief Justice announces plans to hear cases via video conferencing

Chief Justice Sir Marston GIbson oversees ceremony at Supreme Court Complex accompanied by Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith and the commissioner’s Staff Officer Inspector Ian Branch.
Chief Justice Sir Marston GIbson oversees ceremony at Supreme Court Complex accompanied by Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith and the commissioner’s Staff Officer Inspector Ian Branch.

Inmates of Her Majesty’s Prison at Dodds in St. Philip, will soon be able to have some cases conducted from the confines of jail.

Victims of abuse or those threatened with violence in drug cases, will also soon have their cases heard, without being in the same room as the accused. These were among the initiatives announced this morning by Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson while he addressed jurors and judicial officials at the official start of the Legal Year 2013 to 2014, in the Number One Supreme Court.

“We are working on a video conferencing facility between the court and Her Majesty’s Prison at Dodds, which will permit some hearings, for example, applications for bail, to be heard by video conferencing, rather than by transporting the applicants to the court,” Sir Marston disclosed.

The Chief Justice noted that for some time now, the superintendent of prisons had been reporting a challenge with keeping the prison buses in good repair. “It is my view that only where an inmate is on trial or having an appeal heard, does he or she need to be physically present in the courtroom,” he added. “Also, we are planning to set up a video conferencing link between our trial courtrooms and our video conferencing courtroom, so that where there are vulnerable witnesses, such as victims of sexual or physical abuse, or victims of threats of violence in drug cases, the witness can physically testify from a video conferencing room without being in the intimidating presence of the accused.”

Sir Marston reported too, that he was pleased with the new Supreme Court website, which he said he intended to bring on-stream no later than the middle of next month. He suggested that what currently existed could not be called website by “a generous stretch of language”.

He said the judiciary had been working with a small company called, BitEdge. “The website committee had a meeting last week to get a look at what BitEdge has proposed, and I can’t say it any better than, we like what we see. The website will be user friendly, permitting searches, not only of decided cases, but to look as well at the progress of cases, and the judges to whom the cases have been assigned,” continued the Chief Justice.

However, the top justice official told the court there would be new frontiers, including e-filing of cases and the possibility of paying online for services, such as issuance of certificates.

“This will bring our courts in line with the demands of modern commerce and get rid of some of the long lines of which we have heard complaints,” he asserted. (EJ)

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