Tremendous backlog of cases in the Resident Magistrates Court & Circuit Court due mainly to :
Shortage of Resident Magistrates, Clerks and other Court Staff
Lack of preparation on the part of the Police, clerks, attorneys
Lack of adequate resources
Lack of public awareness of the structure and role of the different sectors of the Justice System – e.g. lack of awareness of the role and duties of Justices of the Peace. This is coupled with a lack of awareness of their role in the proper functioning of the Justice System e.g. their participation in as jurors in criminal trials.
Lack of security at court houses – e.g. Montego Bay R.M. Court
Inadequate training of police officers and court staff in areas of customer service, administration, legal courses etc.
Outdated statutes and fines.
Perceived inequality in the way justice is meted out.
Physical structure of court houses
Court houses are not kept in proper state of repair and maintenance. Out stations are in serious disrepair.
Lack of proper amenities (e.g. waiting rooms) for witnesses and other persons (e.g. claimants in civil cases) waiting for matters to be heard.
Lack of proper access for the physically challenged
Small court rooms :
court rooms do not have adequate seating for attorneys and other members of the public;
Poor acoustics in court rooms – difficulty in hearing witnesses. This is especially problematic with child witnesses.
Cultural problems * (“informer fi dead” mentality etc.)
Appoint more Resident Magistrates, clerks and other court staff
Introduce science and technology into the RM courts and police stations– internet, computers, research resources- to enable the court staff and police to better carry out thorough investigations, prepare for court, process cases, acquire evidence, maintain e-files etc.
There should be greater reliance placed on the use of science and technology in the investigations of crimes and in the obtaining evidence.
Establish Regional Supreme Court
Increase jurisdiction of Lay Magistrates
Increase access to legal aid – make it available for civil matters; remunerate attorneys taking on legal aid matters quickly
More use should be made of Alternative Dispute Resolution facilities (e.g. mediation); more emphasis should be placed on training of mediators.
Eliminate Preliminary Enquiries
Mechanism used to update statutes and fines should be revised so that outdated fines and statutes can be updated regularly.
Resources should be made available for physical court buildings to be repaired, modernised (e.g. elevator access for disabled persons) and properly maintained. Infrastructure such as waiting rooms for witnesses and proper seating areas for members of the public should be provided.
Security measures should be employed to ensure that weapons are kept out of the court houses and that prisoners are kept out of public access areas (e.g. Montego Bay R.M. Court).
Ongoing training of court staff , probation officers and police in matters of customer service, legal courses. Emphasis should be placed on how to deal with rape and carnal abuse victims.
Newly qualified attorneys should undergo special training before being appointed Clerks of court.
Provide public education on various aspects of the Justice system
Cultural problem MUST be addressed. The public must understand their role in the proper functioning of the Justice System :
Witnesses ought to be protected so that they are not fearful of giving evidence. (“informer fi dead” threat is a real one)
Citizens must understand that their participation as jurors is essential.