Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 26th 2013 Contents A8
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Friday, July 26, 2013
The Criminal Bar Association
believes it is an exercise in futility
to abolish preliminary inquiries
without simultaneously address-
ing the numerous factors which
contribute to delays in the crim-
inal trial process.
This was one of the recommen-
dations made by the association
when it reviewed the Indictable
Offences (Criminal Proceedings)
They were included in a 91-page
document which was submitted
to the Justice Ministry at the invi-
tation of former minister Herbert
Since passed by Parliament, the
act aims to remove the backlog of
cases associated with preliminary
inquiries and introduces a new
system for serious criminal matters
to reduce the pre-trial time.
In the introduction to its report,
the association said: "Though this
is a laudable legislative objective,
the association is extremely doubt-
ful that the bill in its present form
would achieve this objective as
some of its provisions are incon-
sistent with the constitutional
rights of an accused to a fair trial,
unworkable, ambiguous and
The association s head Pamela
Elder, SC, said there were funda-
mental issues in the bill stage
which still existed.
delays in: appointing legal aid
attorneys and state attorneys,
transmitting file from the police
to the DPP and obtaining an early
date for hearing before magistrates
transfers of presiding magistrates
before whom matters are part
late filing of witness statements,
submission of analysis of exhibits
from Forensic Science Centre and
transmission of depositions from
retirement or long vacation leave
of police complainants
slow pace at which witnesses
are brought to court to testify
prolix or irrelevant examination
lack of electronic recording evi-
delay in filing indictments
It was initially put forward by
the Justice Ministry that initial and
sufficiency hearings should be con-
ducted by judges.
The association, however, said
judges already had to deal with
clearing the current backlog and
would therefore be burdened with
dealing with the myriad sufficiency
hearings that would come before
them from all the magisterial dis-
"The association submits that
magistrates are suitably qualified,
experienced and competent to
conduct sufficiency hearings," the
association recommended. "More-
over many of them have been han-
dling old style committals and
analysing evidence for years."
This recommendation, however,
was shot down by the Justice Min-
istry. Instead, the ministry recently
put advertisements in the news-
papers for judicial officers, called
More resources needed
Unless there is a significant
restructuring of the High Court it
is physically impossible for the
court to effectively and expedi-
tiously handle all sufficiency hear-
ings, the association warned.
Unless this was done it foresaw
"chaos, frustration and despair."
"The new system envisages a
speedy turnaround of documents
and exhibits which necessitates
co-ordination and revamping of
various institutions such as the
Forensic Science Centre, where it
takes a year or sometimes two
years to analyse an exhibit," the
It added that the chronic short-
age of prosecutors at the office of
the Director of Public Prosecutions
must be immediately addressed,
as well as the small pool of crim-
inal-law practitioners, senior and
Saying there must be consulta-
tions with the DPP, the association
added: "It is no secret that at times
defence counsel has to wait
months and sometimes over a year
for statements to be filed and
served on the defence.
"The association fears that in
light of the current handicaps, the
proposed system would only exac-
erbate the problems if all indictable
matters come before the High
Court in a speedier fashion."
Criminal Bar Association:
New pretrial system
won't ease court backlog Judiciary ready to give it a go
Appeal Court judge Paula-Mae
Weekes says the judiciary stands
ready to do its best with the resources
it has once the Administration of Jus-
tice (Indictable Proceedings) Act
comes into effect.
Weekes, who was speaking on a tel-
evision morning show on Wednesday,
said even though the act was "for all
of T&T," there was a possibility it could
be legally done in a defined area.
However, there are opinions on both
sides of the divide, she said.
Saying the act addressed only pre-
trial matters, Weekes added: "So it
takes you up to the point where it is
determined by a master, where there
is sufficient evidence to put you on
"We have many matters in the queue
that are already at that stage in the
"So unless you have the resources
in place, more judges more court-
rooms, more prosecutors, in order to
have the trials go on, you would just
be moving the accused faster to an
eventual screeching halt," Weekes said.
Concerns have been raised that the
Government intended to amend the
proclamation of the act on August 2
to implement only a pilot project lim-
ited to St George West.
Dana Seetahal, SC, in an interview
with the T&T Guardian on Tuesday,
described the decision as "dangerous."
"I don t know anywhere that we
could say an act which is meant to
have general application could now
be, at the desire of the government,
restricted in its application for a short
period," Seetahal said. (GK)
Soldiers patrol Nelson Street, Port-of-Spain, yesterday. PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
The Jamaican taxi-driver charged
in connection with the murder of Min-
ister of Gender, Youth and Child
Development Affairs Marlene
Coudray s daughter, schoolteacher
Michelle Coudray-Greaves, is to stand
trial in September.
An article in the Jamaican Gleaner
newspaper yesterday said the accused,
Ivan Taylor, of Westmoreland, is to
stand trial at the next sitting of the St
James Circuit Court on September 30.
Coudray-Greaves went missing on
June 1, 2012, two days after returning
to Jamaica from a vacation in Trinidad.
She was found dead in a burnt cane-
field at Barnett Estate, Montego Bay,
on June 11. At the time of her disap-
pearance, Coudray-Greaves was a
Spanish teacher at Cornwall College,
She was last seen entering a taxi out-
side the college.
Coudray-Greaves body was identi-
fied from her dental records, which
were supplied to the Jamaican author-
ities by her mother.
The ruling was made Wednesday
when Taylor, the last known person
who saw Coudray-Greaves alive,
appeared in the St James Circuit Court.
Taylor, who has been in custody since
June 30, 2012 was again offered bail,
this time with increased sureties.
His counsel, attorney Stacy-Ann
Young, told presiding Justice Sara
Thompson-James her client was unable
to take up the bail that was previously
offered to him.
Young said: "When this matter was
before the lower court, Mr Taylor was
offered bail in the sum of $200,000
with three sureties.
"Because of his financial situation
and because he doesn t have any living
relatives (to assist with bail), he wasn t
able to take up the bail."
Responding to Young s statement,
Thompson-James said while she could
not reduce the bail amount because of
the severity of the matter, she was pre-
pared to increase the number of
During yesterday s hearing, lead pros-
ecutor Loxley Ricketts said the pros-
ecution was ready to set a trial date.
increased the number of sureties for
Taylor s bail conditions even as she set
the case for trial on September 30.
Coudray-Greaves murder trial
set to start in September
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