COURT REPORTS PROGRESS.
THE Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court is reporting progress in reducing the backlog of cases on its files while bringing down the number of prisoners currently on remand at Bordelais Correctional Facility as well.
The statement issued yesterday by the Court said that the Division had encountered many setbacks due to the closure of the main court building on Peynier Street from June 2015. Despite this, it added, the achievements of the Criminal Division of the High Court show that overall the Division strengthened its performance in 2015.
It added: “The Division was able to dispose of a total number of 246 cases. Three hundred and thirty cases were filed in the Criminal High Court for the year 2015. The Division had a disposal rate of 75 percent for the year 2015.
“In 2015, 1,922 indictable cases were actively managed at the Division – High Court Office. Out of the 1,922 cases, there were 922 arraignments, 674 cases with trial dates and the balance of 326 are listed for sufficiency hearing and case management hearing.
“The Division was also able to process a total of 149 bail applications; however, only 45 persons were able to meet the bail requirements set by the court. The bail amounts were again reviewed and despite significant reductions in the cash amounts persons were still unable to meet their bail whether cash or surety”.
At the end of 2015, the remand population at the Bordelais Correctional Facility was at 353 persons with 297 before the High Court while 58 were before the Magistrates Court. This represented a 9 percent decrease of individuals on remand from 2014, the statement said.
Of the 297 remand prisoners before the High Court, 102 were unable to meet bail, 80 were denied bail, 53 were on remand pending sentencing, 48 had no bail set, three had their bail revoked and 11 were on remand pending psychiatric evaluation.
“The 53 prisoners on remand pending sentence are awaiting pre-sentence or psychiatric reports to be prepared by the Probation Services Department and the Psychiatrist. Sentencing of these prisoners cannot be undertaken by the Judges until the reports are obtained and presented to the court”, the Court statement explained.
It said that of the 297 remand prisoners before the High Court, 152 inmates had trial dates, 40 were before the Court for sufficiency hearing and 52 inmates were before the court for case management.
For the period January to March 2016, a total of 88 cases were filed. One hundred and ten cases were disposed of during that period. There were 42 convictions, with the remaining 68 resulting in discharge, withdrawal, dismissal or discontinuance.
“At the end of March 2016, the number of remand prisoners at the Bordelais Correctional Facility who are before the High Court stood at 263. The total number of remands at the Facility at the end of March 2016 was 327 which comprise the 263 before the High Court and 64 before Magistrate’s Court.
“In February 2016, an additional High Court judge was appointed temporarily to assist in the Criminal Division. This additional judge was able to dispose of 43 matters by the end of March 2016”.
Said the statement: “Despite the Division’s challenges and closure of the High Court building resulting in temporary relocation to the Nyerah Court and Bordelais Correctional Facility on occasion, the Judges of the Division continue to work with the Court Office in ensuring that the administration of justice is not compromised. Additionally, the mandate of the court in providing citizens with access to justice was not greatly affected as the Division recorded an increase in the number of cases disposed and a reduction in individuals on remand.