At least two relatively old matters involving deceased persons have appeared on the court’s list in the past two weeks, causing the Magistrate Shawn Innocent to decry the increasingly recurring shortcomings of the judicial system locally.
The deceased person in one of those matters is a defendant (the person accused of a crime) while, in the other matter, the deceased person is said to be a complainant. One of those matters is at least three years old, the court heard.
In instances where a person dies during an active court case, a death certificate ought to be produced for the court to officially dispose of the matter.
No respect for the court
Magistrate Innocent, in the meantime, has said he believes the respect for the judicial system is going downhill in the territory.
“I sit here and I see people come in here and have no respect for the court’s system,” the magistrate said while noting the lack of cohesion among the key players in the territory’s criminal-justice system.
“There needs to be some cohesion [between the departments like the police and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)] … Otherwise, it is going to create confusion for everybody. I’m not castigating anybody, it is just a systematic problem that needs to be addressed.”
His remarks also come at a time the Office of the DPP have repeatedly been appearing before the court to ask for adjournments for first-appearance matters because the defendants in those matters were not summoned to appear in court.
This problem arises because persons charged for minor offences are granted police bail to appear in the Magistrate’s Court at a later date. They, however, become hard to find when it’s time for their court appearance.
“Who started this foolishness about police bail? When you go and you release them … you have all the trouble hunting them down. That makes no sense,” said Magistrate Innocent who asserted that ‘police bail’ is not practised in the rest of the region.
He said a person should be brought before the court forthwith after they are charged with an offence. The magistrate further reasoned that those persons should only be offered bail ‘at court’.
“Until the system collapses, nobody going to do anything about it,” he said. “I should have become a priest because I find myself preaching a lot.”
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