Tuesday, September 18, 2012

CJ Archie says much to be done before eliminating preliminary enquiries

Chief Justice Ivor Archie said Monday it was not realistic to implement any legislative policy to eliminate preliminary enquiries before the first quarter of 2013.

He made the point as he addressed the opening of the 2012/2013 Law Term at the Convocation Hall at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain.

He did not specifically address the controversial Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act 2011, which the Parliament repealed within days of it being made law by presidential assent. However he said the elimination of preliminary enquiries is a "mammoth" undertaking.

"It is no surprise that in other jurisdictions like New Zealand, where similar reforms were undertaken, the lag between passage of the relevant legislation and the implementation of reforms was more than a year," Archie said.

"It has always been our position, and we so advised, that implementation could not realistically take place before the first quarter of 2013 and we in the Judiciary have never discussed or contemplated partial implementation.

"We have nevertheless agreed to a very ambitious timeline and start-up is now set for the beginning of January 2013. We are working assiduously towards its fulfillment, but we will start when we are ready. 

"We must and will resist any temptation to make a premature start in the eagerness to demonstrate performance. All the ducks must be lined up or chaos will ensue right after start-up and we will simply create a fresh and intractable backlog," the CJ said.

Archie said the state must address several administrative and logistical issues ahead of such change.

"Courtrooms, registries, and monitoring and compliance units have to be established. Procedural Rules have to be drafted from which process flows have to be designed and integrated with the case management information system. 

"New positions have to be created and staff recruited and trained at every level from judge and master to counter clerk. Most of these activities are sequential. We are still in the process of identifying and outfitting suitable physical spaces, although draft criminal procedure rules are now available for comment and finalisation."

Archie said over 14,000 matters were filed in the criminal courts each year. He said it is clear that any new system that is put in place will have to absorb a huge influx of new matters in addition to those already in the system for which transitional arrangements have to be made.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai