Magistrate warns that current backlog in issuing court orders is costing the Government
Chief Marshal Adrian Lovell today issued a timely reminder that court marshals, who knowingly act in contravention of their oath, or those found guilty of neglect, misconduct or breach of duty are liable on summary conviction to a fine of $2 000 or imprisonment for a year.
He was testifying in the District ‘A’ Traffic Court today, after being summoned yesterday by Magistrate Graveney Bannister, who also raised strong concern today that the current delay in summoning offenders was “denying the Government of revenue”.
Their comments come against the backdrop of a sworn affidavit by one of his court officers that he had personally served a summons to ZR driver Kelroy Alexander for him to attend court on October 6, 2014.
A warrant of arrest was subsequently issued for the driver, based on the fact that he was served “personally”. However, when the accused turned up in court on Monday, he said he was never served and was in fact out of the island at that time.
The marshal later admitted that when he had signed the affidavit, as having served the document “personally”, it was as a result of the heavy workload he had that day and it was “a genuine mistake”. He said he gave the summons to the man’s stepdaughter.
During his evidence, the Chief Marshal explained the correct procedure to be followed in an instance when an accused could not be located.
He said it was the marshal’s responsibility to “endorse the book of summons on a sworn affidavit”, indicate that information and make a sworn statement before a Justice of the Peace.
In response, the magistrate said one of his major concerns was the large number of returned summonses, which the Chief Marshal suggested could be sent back to his office to be reissued.
Bannister determined that he would refer the matter to the Registrar of the Supreme Court, who is in charge of the marshals, for her to determine the course of action to be taken, if any.
The magistrate later told Barbados TODAY he felt that the number of unserved summonses “affects the whole operations of the court,” particularly since many of the summonses are related to repeat offenders who “persist in the same kind of bad behaviour on the road [because] they are not being brought before the court in a timely fashion”.
“They don’t change their behaviour because the sanctions are long in coming,” he said.
“This prevents the court from adjudicating on their matters and imposing sanctions”.
Bannister reckoned that on occasions, one offender could have as many as “25 or 30” summonses brought against him at one time.
By then, he said the fines would be staggering if the court were to consider each offence, while noting that many accused persons did not have the means to honour their fines.
While arguing that the delay in serving court orders was “denying the Government of revenue”, the magistrate contended “greater effort needs to be made in terms of serving these summonses”.