Prosecutors face efficiency review

| 15/01/2015 | 0 Comments
Cayman News Service

Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell, Attorney General Samuel Bulgin and Premier Alden McLaughlin at the Opening of Grand Court January 2015 (Photo by Jaida Alexander)

(CNS): The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) will come under scrutiny over the next few months with the arrival in Cayman of the UK’s Criminal Justice Advisor, Claire Wetton. The legal expert will assist with an efficiency review of the systems in place relating to case management, trial issues, evidence gathering, as well as witness care and preparation among several other problem areas. The attorney general announced the review Wednesday pointing to a number of issues in the office managing criminal cases.

Samuel Bulgin indicated that there was a need to improve efficiency and timely presentations of cases, as well as a review of the working relationships of the police and prosecutors, including lines of communication between those two agencies. The review will also look at the handling of child witnesses and the ongoing problems of late or inadequate disclosure.

In his speech moving the motion to open the Grand Court for the year, he noted a number of the problems created for the DPP by the growing load of criminal cases and what was being done to try and tackle it. Referring to a dedicated court for backup Summary Court cases, he said that after some issues had been ironed out, it has proved to be effective in ensuring that two or three trials a day are proceeding. Bulgin also revealed that following Deputy DPP Trevor Ward’s return to his home in Tobago the DPP had recruited an outside deputy to replace him. Bulgin said Patrick Moran from the UK will take up office in March.

The post of a senior crime case manager has also been created and the post holder will have the remit to oversee and handle disclosure matters.

“This has proven to be a critical issue in ensuring that trials are able to proceed in an efficient manner. Creating this new post is but one way of seeking to address this concern,” the AG stated. He said there wwould be a review of the entire disclosure process, as it is not yet a statutory one here as it is in the UK.

“While the guiding principles are clearly set out by case law, there is no requirement for defence case statements and for the defence to give an early indication of the material which they seek. Similarly, it is accepted by the DPP that the crown must do its part to better respond in a timely manner and to establish systems which are able to cope even with late requests for disclosure,” Bulgin added.

This will be part of the work that will be undertaken during the entire office review to make efficiency measures in the ODPP. Despite the recent catalogue of damning revelations regarding the RCIPS management and the ongoing police deficiencies constantly revealed in the courts, the attorney general offered his backing to the police commissioner.

“2014 was indeed a challenging year for all of us in the criminal justice system and law enforcement, including the RCIP,” he said. “But despite the many challenges our police service continues to work assiduously to keep us safe, keep our streets safe, and it is therefore incumbent on all of us to continue to give the commissioner of police and his officers our unconditional support and encouragement.”

Bulgin also commended the work of the Cold Case Unit after its first case resulted in the conviction of Chad Anglin last May for the murder of Frederic Bise and in December the conviction of Leonard Ebanks for being an accessory after the fact to that murder.

Reviewing the laws passed over the last year, the attorney general made no mention of the still controversial and outstanding legal practitioner’s bill in his address. He said that the over the coming year there would be continuing dialogue on a number of significant pieces of proposed legislation, including the Foreign Judgments Reciprocal Enforcement Law and a Charities Law, and to undertake further work on Data Protection; the Protected Disclosures or the Whistle-Blowing Law, as well as others.

However the head of the country’s legal affairs completely ignored the lack of legislation governing his profession.

See all speeches from the Grand Court Opening here

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Category: Courts, Crime, Police

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