Former magistrate wants greater freedom to speak
It has recently come in for a bashing from various quarters for among other things, its slow delivery of justice.
However, the newly appointed Registrar of the Supreme Court Barbara Cooke-Alleyne said yesterday it was a pity that in all cases the local judiciary was not allowed to defend its own name.
As holder of the number two administrative post in the island’s Supreme Court and a former magistrate, Cooke-Alleyne said she was forced to remain silent on issues, even in instances where the “licks” the judiciary was getting from members of the public were based on blatant untruths.
The former magistrate therefore feels the time is ripe for the court to break with tradition, and allow officers more freedom to speak their minds.
“Sometimes you say things in the Press about us and we would love to respond, but the tradition is we don’t respond, we take the licks, and we can’t respond,” she said.
However, Cooke-Alleyne argued that the court needed to operate as if it was in the 21st century so that officers could “respond to things that are said to say whether they are true and whether we are fixing it.
“We don’t have the opportunity under this tradition that we are in to respond,” she stressed.
Among those who have been highly critical of the Barbados judiciary in recent months is the president of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Sir Denys Byron, who back in February accused the judiciary in Barbados of not delivering justice in a timely manner, while strongly condemning the local courts for “excessive and inordinate” delays in resolving cases.
Earlier this month, Barbadian Queen’s Counsel Andrew Pilgrim, QC, went as far as to describe the country’s judicial system as “a joke”, amid uncertainty over whether the Crown would proceed with a murder case that had been pending for the past four years.
“We are incapable of guaranteeing anyone a trial within a reasonable time,” Pilgrim told acting Magistrate Alliston Seale in the District ‘A’ Magistrates’ Court. “If you plead guilty to a speeding ticket, you cannot get a trial within a year.”
The top brass of the Barbados Bar Association had also complained during a news conference in February that the association had to supply chairs for clients and attorneys to sit on while conducting business in the High Court.