Justice Minister Delroy Chuck projects that the list of probate and divorce cases in the court system will be cleared up by the end of 2019.
He made the disclosure while speaking on Saturday (September 28) at a training seminar for judges and lay magistrates, at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa, Montego Bay, St. James.
Minister Chuck noted that measures implemented by the ministry to clear the backlog, have resulted in a consistent reduction in the number of probates and divorce cases, with reports of matters being disposed of within six months.
“Only recently, I have heard from a number of attorneys that they are getting probates done within three months. Now this is revolutionary because probates were taking two years and five years. The Chief Justice (Bryan Sykes) intimated that probates and divorces, which used to take two years, are now being done within six months,” he informed.
Chuck further informed of improvements in the completion rate of criminal cases brought before courts, since the start of this year.
He pointed to the Chief Justice’s comments that the judicial system needs to clear 130 cases per 100 to fully address the backlog.
“For the first quarter of this year, for every 100 cases that came in, 103 cases were completed and in the second quarter, April to June. for every 100 cases that came in, 108 cases were done. What we are looking for by the end of the year [is] that for every 100
cases, we [clear] over 130 cases,” Chuck informed.
The Justice Minister also stated the need to use plea bargaining, to further reduce the backlog of cases.
“What we want to do is to use moral suasion to see if we can get the cases completed on time. So, the Chief Justice hopes that within a short period of time, court cases can be completed within 24 months, but if they are not completed within 24 months, hopefully 36 months. For that to happen, it has to be attacked from all angles. First, persons who are guilty must feel to accept their responsibility and go and beg for mercy,” he contended.
Meanwhile, Minister Chuck commended the organisers of the training initiative, stating that “any measure to improve the professional competence of lay magistrates is a bold step in the right direction”.
“I want an army of competent and committed Lay Magistrates who will play a pivotal role in the reform of the justice sector,” he stated.
For her part, High Commissioner of Canada to Jamaica Laurie Peters, reaffirmed Canada’s commitment to supporting justice reform in Jamaica.
She said the training session represents a model approach used in Canada and provides an opportunity for “everyone to experience new methods of learning and to assess and improve their own approaches and professional practice”.
The three-day training session was organised by the Justice Training Institute, Justice Undertakings for Social Transformation (JUST) and the National Integrity Action (NIA).
It forms part of a strategic partnership between the Governments of Jamaica and Canada to develop and improve the nation’s justice sector.