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90-day rule

Prominent attorney argues for court cases to be thrown out

Frustrated with the slow wheels of justice in the country, prominent attorney-at-law Andrew Pilgrim, QC, today argued for the implementation of a 90-day rule, similar to what obtains in the United Kingdom, after which languishing court cases, in which the prosecution has failed to present a file, would have to be thrown out.

The suggestion came after police prosecutor Neville Watson informed the District ‘A’ Magistrates’ Court, which was being presided over Thursday by Acting Chief Magistrate Douglas Frederick, that he was still not in a position to proceed with a 2014 matter brought against Pilgrim’s client Jamel Omar Ashby since he was not yet in possession of Ashby’s file.

“We should all be able to see that there is something inherently wrong with the system and I wonder what tool we have to [implement] to make the system wake up,” said Pilgrim, who went on to suggest to the presiding officer that “the only tool was for people like your Worship to say, ‘On serious matters I will give you all a year, a year and a half on capital matters, but I am not taking two-year-old matters forward”.

Ashby, who is in his 20s, of Rogers Road, Ivy, St Michael is charged with seven serious offences, including the unlawful possession of a firearm.

However, Pilgrim took serious offence to the absence of not even a piece of paper, beyond his client’s charge sheet, saying “well look Jamel Ashby did this”.

“We have to set logical guidelines that say that this time is too long. In the UK it is 90 days [and if there is] no evidence, you go home,” he advocated.

The criminal lawyer also expressed frustration over the fact that his client had been incarcerated at HMP Dodds for almost 27 months.

“[That’s] nine times what the UK who we follow so slavishly [does],”  Pilgrim pointed out before concluding that the situation in which his client now finds himself was “unfortunate”.

“My view is, it is not [any] great peril if these matters get dismissed. I think that the trend moving forward should be that magistrates see 90 days pass and nothing done they should dismiss [the cases] because they can always be brought back.

“The point is people shouldn’t have to sit in prison for two years plus of their life without one iota of evidence being brought forward,” he stressed.

Pilgrim also took a swipe at Opposition legislator Kerrie Symmonds, who is also an attorney, over his recent calls for harsher penalties under the Firearms Act.

“We really thinking along the right lines . . . we want harsher penalties? I mean the penalties I see under the Firearms Act are pretty hard [and] the point is you can’t put them in first,” he argued.

Outside the courtroom, Pilgrim further criticized Symmonds’ call which was made at a political meeting last weekend. He accused the Barbados Labour Party representative for St James Central of “a knee jerk reaction” to the recent spate of gun crimes in the country.

“Enforcement is one thing. In other words I don’t think there is any need for any harsher penalties. Penalties under the Act in respect to wounding, bodily harm, these things carry up to life imprisonment,” Pilgrim told Barbados TODAY, adding that “possession of firearm the limits are high.

“He [Symmonds] is saying to increase the penalties [but] the penalties are already stiff. What are you going to give them, two life sentences instead of one? It doesn’t make any sense,” added the Queen’s Counsel, moments after his case was adjourned for a week.

He was adamant that more must be done to ensure this country’s law courts function efficiently.

6 Responses to 90-day rule

  1. Rawle Spooner
    Rawle Spooner September 9, 2016 at 1:58 am

    Not a fan of lawyers but he is damm correct about how slow and amateur the justice system in Barbados really is but is any of the hot shots namely PM /AG/DPP or CJ listening or really cares.Simple let worldwide audience know how bad it is along with international bodies because these hot shots only care about tourism that kinda publicity will get their attention,Bajans got to stop being so damm timid and let world know how things really are beyond what they see in tourism advertising.

  2. Brien King
    Brien King September 9, 2016 at 3:46 am

    Like I stated before, in Barbados, you can easily get locked up on mere allegations with no proof as seen here, occurs here all the time, especially if you are really poor, but I say this, without GOD’s guidance, everything goes down hill to destruction and the world only wants to know but for the most part, they don’t care, a matter of fact, the worse it is here, the better it is for those in the world that want to take advantage.

    • Rawle Spooner
      Rawle Spooner September 9, 2016 at 4:27 am

      Ya got a good point but something must be done looking up people for years on remand is a friggin travesty of justice and as we all know justice delayed is justice denied.

  3. Hal Austin September 9, 2016 at 4:06 am

    This is a very good idea, especially for committal hearings.
    The other change I would like to see is change in the prosecution officers.
    Having police officers presenting cases was good in the 1940s and 50s, but it is irrelevant in a country with about 1000 registered lawyers, many in private practice and not doing very well.
    Magistrate courts should be a place for recently qualified lawyers to learn the skills of prosecution.
    We also need a cadre of public defenders so people should not appear before magistrates and judges unrepresented.

  4. Tony Webster September 9, 2016 at 6:10 am

    @Hal….getting seriously worried as I keep agreeing with your comments- and suggestions. BT shud tell all of us commenters, that for every criticism, we gotta include at least one half-baked suggestion / solution. I’ve “raised” one daughter- now a well-rounded 34-year old lady, and whilst teaching her to drive , we often talked about what makes life worthwhile, and how God’s green Earth keeps spinning on its axis etc. I recall telling her that becoming an adult is a heady, joyfull, liberating feeling, being “independent” if you will…- but it all comes at the price of “being responsible” – for oneself- and for our fellow-citizens.

    Looks like there’s a whole lot more to this “independence’ thing…than flag-waving… and chest-thumping.

  5. The Negrocrat September 9, 2016 at 9:51 am

    Lick and lock up come back again. Only the poor will face such injustices.


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