Chief Justice criticises police

KINGSTON – The practice of the police charging and bringing individuals to court before completing their investigations was yesterday criticised by Chief Justice Zaila McCalla and a senior judge.

According to McCalla and Justice Lloyd Hibbert, the practice is contributing to the backlog of cases in courts across the island. McCalla made her remarks during the opening of the Home Circuit Court’s Michaelmas Term in Kingston, while Hibbert was speaking at the opening of the St James Circuit in the western end of the island.

Hibbert said “too many cases were being brought to circuit that are not ready to be heard”.

“This is not a court where things are sorted out, but where cases are tried,” he emphasised.

Hibbert’s remark came after at least three cases were mentioned in court for which the prosecution said investigations had not been completed. The cases were sent to the Circuit Court by way of voluntary bills of indictment.

At least two of the cases mentioned were for murder charges. When the third was mentioned, Hibbert quipped, “We are lucky this is not baseball, three strikes and you are out.”

Thirty-eight cases are set to be tried in the St. James Circuit, while 565 are down for trial in the Home Circuit Court. Of that number, 342 are for murder.

Chief Justice McCalla called on the police to ensure that they complete their investigation before bringing cases into the system. She also called on the Office of the Director of the Public Prosecutions to ensure that investigation is completed before a matter is brought to court.

She said both the prosecution and defence attorneys, as well as the police, should work together to dispose of as many cases as possible for the new term.

Work, she said, is being done to reduce the number of times a case comes before the court for mention before a trial date is set, while noting that full criminal case management will be implemented in all the courts across the island come next January.

McCalla also said that plans were afoot to hire more judicial clerks to assist justices with research for their written judgements. (Jamaica Observer)

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