Judge concerned as staff roster restricts in-person access to courts

Judge concerned as staff roster restricts in-person access to courts


Judge concerned as staff roster restricts in-person access to courts
Justice Frank Seepersad. –

Just one Large Court judge is adamant that access to justice in his court docket will not be “fettered or restricted” even as the Judiciary remains on an alternate-working day roster inspite of new practice directions allowing in-particular person matters to just take area.

Justice Frank Seepersad mentioned it was hoped that “common sense will prevail” to impact a transform in the present-day administrative preparations for judges and their personnel to see them accessing courtroom structures a lot more commonly as opposed to every other working day.

“But if it is not, this court docket will fearlessly defend the independence of this place of work.”

Seepersad also warned that the present arrangement can consequence in trials that exceed a day, remaining in jeopardy if the court was denied the requisite administrative help.

He designed his viewpoints identified on Friday as he dealt with attorneys ahead of the begin of a series of pretrial overview hearings and a civil trial.

He stated he held the perspective that the passions of justice will best be served by in-particular person hearings as opposed to digital trials.

“This situation is of class subject matter to reputable considerations and constraints with regard to witnesses’ availability and well being worries.

“That owning been reported there appears to be to be administrative interference with the court’s capability to carry out its trials.”

He said with there becoming a team A and a staff B roster, he has only had access to the Hall of Justice two days a week and two times at the San Fernando Higher Court.

Seepersad reported the alternate-working day roster was in put in advance of March 11 exercise course which now makes it possible for for in-individual trials and jury trials.

On the other hand, Seepersad mentioned it appeared the apply direction” may perhaps have been issued without having partaking a sensible and complete assessment of the proper administrative changes.

“The continuation of rostered-courtroom obtain practice is impractical, untenable and inconsistent with the practice path.

“Clarification and rectification of this difficulty have proved futile, and the continuation of the administrative observe outcomes in a circumstance the place a court will not be in a position to engage in two consecutive days of demo in the same court developing.”

He explained whilst most civil conditions have been done in a working day, a choose had the suitable to ascertain the times that trials will be held in Port of Spain, San Fernando or Tobago, pointing out that the practice is that a matter is listened to in the jurisdiction in which it has been filed.

“The absence of practicality is pellucid when a single considers that most prison issues past numerous days, so is it anticipated that judges and jurors will have to constantly alternate between San Fernando and Port of Spain? A continuation of the roster method would necessarily mean that prison trials in Tobago would be ongoing each other day.”

On March 11, Seepersad claimed courtrooms belonged to citizens and all those not able to obtain technologies really should have obtain to court structures.

“It must not be lost that there should usually be a human deal with to justice and we are unable to enable the existing know-how to replace the will need for empathy which is best addressed when there is true bodily engagement.”

He proposed there remaining blended operations considering that there were being rewards to digital hearings, but emphasised that actual physical hearings could not be excluded.

His comments ended up designed hrs ahead of the new exercise directions had been issued by Main Justice Ivor Archie.

On Friday previous week, Seepersad preserved he will not tolerate any encroachment upon his judicial independence and his capacity to handle his trial docket. He explained any administrative attempt to do so will be strongly opposed.

“The inflexible retention of the roster procedure will lead to chaos and will induce unacceptable delays in the shipping of justice.”

Attorney Martin George said the pandemic introduced two “excellent solutions” of electronic filings and digital courtroom and needed the two measures to remain long-lasting for all civil matters and civil trials.

“Entire trials are finished electronically, so even if folks are overseas or out of the jurisdiction, the courtroom can even now carry on with evidence currently being taken by video clip-link and people cross-examined and submissions produced and the demo concluded.

“It is a considerably quicker, additional economical and seamless way of offering and dispensing justice as opposed to the old cumbersome way of likely in-individual for trials and flying-in witnesses or overseas experts, at wonderful cost, when you can just consider their evidence by movie-backlink.

Newsday understands a assembly was held on March 14 to devise a system of action for the eventual resumption of jury trials.

Another civil court docket choose informed Newsday, they intended to continue on on the digital platform for the most part but will utilise the in-person choice for all those trials that cannot be held just about simply because of the complexity of the scenario or the quantity of witnesses.

A person legal defence legal professional Newsday also spoke with claimed the new follow directions offered no assistance about mask-wearing through in-human being hearings for anybody in the courtroom, specifically as there were being diverse court docket dimensions.

They also raised the issue of limited house in the jury rooms which will not be able to facilitate bodily distancing, specifically with a 12-member jury.

The new observe directions make a “hybrid listening to” where some aspects will be digital and some in-human being. Prisoners will not be introduced to court and they can adhere to proceedings via a stay online video feed from the jailhouse.

Whilst judicial officers retained regulate of the courtroom functions of just about every demo or hearing, which can be a mixture of in-particular person or digital hearings, in the occasion of “any jury demo” they will have to have because of regard for the security and overall health of associates of the jury.

“No juror will have to be demanded to sit shoulder to shoulder with yet another person,” the detect explained.

Jury trials were suspended due to the fact the start of the pandemic in March 2020 and there was only in-particular person entry to court buildings in crisis conditions.