Premier accuses CJ of not having a plan

| 19/01/2018 | 67 Comments

(CNS): Comments by Chief Justice Anthony Smellie about government’s failure to address the much-needed court-house were refuted by the premier during his Chamber of Commerce Legislative Lunch speech Thursday, though he acknowledged the much-needed facility has been under discussion for a decade. While Alden McLaughlin said he agreed with the chief justice about the court-house being a pressing issue, he said that so too was the need for a new police station, as he accused Justice Smellie of not having a plan or specific property in mind and said that government had to make choices.

“Government found it difficult to agree to a request to allocate a sum as large as $4 million to purchase land for a new courthouse when, despite the many attempts, there are no agreed plans for any such facility, where there is no specific property being considered, and where government already owns acres of crown land that can be used for a new modern court facility,” he said in response to being taken to task bu the top judge on Wednesday.

McLaughlin said government had plans to replace the West Bay Police station as well as provide for a new headquarters for the RCIPS in George Town, which have also been under consideration for more than a decade. He hit back at the chief justice, who had accused government of not taking the situation at the courts seriously, pointing to the “demonstration of indifference by government” by cutting out the funding for a land purchase and failing “to understand the true nature of the difficulties confronting the administration” of justice given the inadequate existing facilities.

The premier hit back, “Contrary to the chief justice’s assertion, there is no lack of vision on government’s part. Instead there is a keen sense of fiscal responsibility and the recognition that at this point the Cayman Islands Government simply cannot afford to spend between $150 million and $180 million on a court facility, ” he said. “While we fully acknowledge the urgent need for additional modern court facilities, the price tag will have to be substantially less than what has previously been proposed.”

McLaughlin said government must make choices and so not everyone will be happy. “Government did allocate $845,000 in the current budget to take the court-house project forward. This money essentially serves as a placeholder, allowing government and the chief justice to come to a reasonable compromise on a location, a structure that is fit for purpose and, importantly, one that the country can afford,” he added.

Indicating that government’s focus in the criminal justice system is further up the crime chain, the premier reminded the audience that the 2018/19 budget has provision for 75 new police officers to be hired over the next three years.

“Both businesses and citizens want to live and work in safe communities and so government is supporting and funding the RCIPS to improve its abilities in crime prevention and security, including community policing and improved border protection,” he said.

“We are also working with the UK to create a new border protection service. This is a vital step forward in our work to counter illegal immigration and organized crime, including the smuggling of weapons and drugs into and out of Cayman. There will also be improvements to our search-and-rescue services to help save the lives of those in trouble at sea,” the premier added.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    “NO” to new Primary schools, student supplies and harsher sentencing.
    “YES” to more jails, South Sound Million$$ Boardwalks, Courthouses and Jails.
    Future is ooking bright Cayman

  2. Anonymous says:

    CJ should be pushing for term limits not new buildings.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Need to start cleaning out these departments …: too many users and dinosaurs – merely running their strategy (brain washing), making sure they keep their jobs. Time to put good, young Caymanians in these positions. And run out the ‘good old boys’.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Brain washing at it’s best. Everyone wants to keep their job. We need to take s good look at these court cases and the harsh summons that are handed down to caymanians, especially for drug offenses (marijuana). What a joke. One has to ask who are the criminals?Its call keeping their jobs / and I mean ‘the forigners’. The authorities that be..,., please stop being BRAiN WASHED. PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Shepherd says:

    New Court House?? No! Updated system to deal with offenders, Yes!!!
    Our Court system is in the dark ages. It is time for the Chief Justice to step down or get out of his comfort zone.

    Court cases that go on for months and YEARS have to end!!!! Simple offenses should be dealt with there and then, get a 24 hour magistrate or at least have a streamlined system to have simple offenses seen to within a week. Sanction more fixed penalty tickets if need be, this is a quick and easy way for government revenue and unclogging the Courthouse.

    Monies should be focused on updating the prison and mental health facilities. And not making the prison more comfortable, but more productive. Time to get them boys out working, cleaning up the beaches, ect, so that they come back tired at the end of the day and not idle.

    • anon says:

      Shepherd, you seem to be one of those persons witb all the answers—a regular Mr. Fixit. Good for you! By the way, you do know tbat prisoners do work outside the prison, right? Any new suggestions?

    • Anonymous says:

      Fixed penalties require action by the Legislature. So back to the Premiere you’re trying to defend.

  6. SKEPTICAL says:

    How many GT office buildings have empty spaces. Strathvale House May be completely vacant. Why can’t government rent it and adjust the interior layout. No ridiculous CI$176 minion capital expenditure, close to central GT, with plenty of parking space. Think outside the box mr premier

    • Marl Karx says:

      Not good enough for the CIG or the Courts
      Though in all honesty not the worst idea
      Probably a lot harder to convert a generic office building into a usable court space which is likely why they aren’t doing something like that (by the end off the effort how much space could possibly be used
      I think there should be one centralized courts facility with space for expansion in the future instead of multiple buildings scattered around GT, the islands are only going to get bigger population-wise the CIG might as well pretend as they are preparing for that inevitability
      Plus I don’t really think renting is really what our “surplus focused” CIG is about, the seem more of the “buy high and sell never type”

      • Anonymous says:

        you can’t simply just put a court house in an empty building. You are all forgetting about the lock up. Which must be secure.
        All court houses that have criminal matters, must have holding cells.

        • Anonymous says:

          A suggestion then, move civil cases and traffic etc out of the court house or the old Maples House, and put them in say the old Walkers building – the owner of that has been lobbying for that to be converted for court use since Walkers moved out – and leave the criminal cases in the existing court house where the holding cells are. Now I’m not saying that would solve everything but it would surely make a huge difference? This might be a band aid solution but it would ease pressure and allow a sensible time frame to development a permanent solution.

          • Anonymous says:

            Tail wagging dog. (The owner of the building has been pushing for a solution that the judge(s) who would have to use the building don’t think will work. Hmmmm.)

  7. Anonymous says:

    Take the mid point of $150m to $180m = $165m eh. Now build the court house on property that belong to the people/Government at $600.00 per sq. ft. ( very inflated price ) the court house will be 275,000 thousand sq. ft.., wa ya say. No thinking out of the box there, especially nowadays with video link to try inmates especially violent and questionable ones from prison. This is not a white elephant, but an oversized red, yellow, black and white one. Not their ??? mo n e y so what the hell, our great, great, grand children can pay for it on a hourly wage of $6.00 an hour and working 84 hours each week, Aaaaaaa. Get real please.

    • Anonymous says:

      Knock down the old glass house and build a modest priced court house on the site. The lot is close to the new admin. Building, prison, immigration, walking distance from George Town central, etc etc.

      • Anonymous says:

        There is a reasonable compromise to be had here. A new purpose built Court Centre on the Glass House site would be an excellent location. The Honourable Chief Justice is absolutely correct in his view of the current facilities which are not fit for the demands of a community that has trebled in size since the current Court House was commissioned. Timely access to justice, security and maintaining our reputation as a leading financial centre are important factors in the calculus of why a modern facility is needed. The current price-tag is eye-watering and efficiencies and compromises will have to be made to ensure the delivery of a first class facility.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Good going Alden, Focus on saving money and not spending it.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Is there ANY national planing done??
    Schools have no workbooks or copypaper, but according to news
    a $9 million temporary boardwalk is soon going in for South Sound joggers.
    Who comes up with this stuff??

    • Anonymous says:

      The boardwalk is for anyone and everyone. Joggers don’t need a boardwalk, I thought it would be a great idea for everyone to see the waverunners and camping on Easter? Maybe sailing in a closed in bay? I’m sure you all can think of other events that would be great to watch in South Sound/ Red Bay.

    • anon says:

      If “schools have no workbooks or copy paper” it means some one is not doing his or her job.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Justice delayed is justice denied, Alden is a lawyer he should know that

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t think Alden has seen the inside of a criminal court,
      unless he went to gloat when the had Mac in chains perhaps?

  11. Anon says:

    Are there any big empty government buildings sitting unused in Georgetown? (People who have Glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, you know) All you need for a courtroom is a large room, three tables and 25 or so chairs. Refurb some rooms, stick in the above described simple furniture along with a protable AC unit, stick in a Judge, baliff, clerk, court reporter, crown counsel and tell them to get to work.

    • Anonymous says:

      By this standard they might as well be holding court in school halls when the kids aren’t in there

      of course there are generic buildings that can be re-appropriated that does not mean they will be or should be

    • Anonymous says:

      Wow, I would love to see your life.

    • Anonymous says:

      what about the cells that you put the violent criminals in while they await trial? or the future northward inmates that have just been sentenced? Gonna just tell them to wait right here, while we get your accommodations ready? LOL.

  12. Anonymous says:

    What is wrong with the large empty office blocks (70,000 sq feet) in town – the Old Walkers Building. Could be purchased I guess for US$30m and converted for another US$2-3m. Lots of parking, OR Rent it !

  13. C lee says:

    Another idea..why not have the government accept bids from private industry to build new facilities and lease them back to the government.

  14. Anonymous says:

    The Chief Justice is right that new courts are needed, but he shouldn’t have the final decision as to their location; that’s for government. At most he should provide input as to capacity, layout, etc. At the end of the day he’s just a judge, and he and his colleagues should go wherever government chooses to put them. It’s not for him to decide where that should be.

    • Anonymous says:

      Government (society) relies on a three-way split of ‘power’ between an independent judiciary, an independent legislature, and an independent administration (Civil Service, performing their duties without fear or favour). Once you give one arm too much power, e.g., the legislature being able to tell the judiciary that they will not get a new courthouse for 30 years, you get a breakdown in society. In this case justice delayed/denied.

      (Yes I know the UK/Westminster system isn’t very good at this division, being descended from royalty as it were, but we should aspire to be better than the weaknesses we inherit.)

  15. McCarron MCLAUGHLIN says:

    100% in agreement with the Premier, any price tag over CI$ 35mm should be a none starter.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Will never get built just like the police stations
    Government are blind to law and order In Cayman but unfortunately it is spiralling the police need to get a grip but funding is woeful compared to other Caribbean jurisdictions and the court system is run by defence layers who clog it up to a snails pace due to a weak DPP.
    Gov appoint a qualified minister to shake it up and Alden it most definitely ain’t you.

  17. Anonymous says:

    The CNS report unfortunately did not highlight the following:

    1. The CJ described the plans, prepared and costed by PwC as CI$146-177m as “exorbitant”.

    2. The CI$4m was requested to purchase a central site which would follow a less-expensive 2008 design.

    3. The Judicial Administration is now exploring further temporary measures such as the acquisition of nearby vacant commercial space to relieve pressure on the system as quickly as possible.

    In other words, they understand the financial constraints and this isn’t about having a gold-plated building (at least not if we can’t afford one, because it really would boost legal business which brings tens of millions in fees to the budget every year).

    • anon says:

      Anonymous at 9:51 pm, 19/1: thanks for clarifying that. These were important points to give the public a balanced picture of the CJ’s perspective. A pity they were not included in the CNN report above. I hope that persons posting will first scroll down to read this post.

  18. West bay Premier says:

    Sorry I posted my last comment on the wrong article, see article headline (Premier rails against lack of praise).

  19. West bay Premier says:

    He is just talkig out one corner of his mouth and whispering out the other corner .Remember that he need to say something that will make Ezzard Miller happy too .
    Much of what Alden said in this article is what Miller said and stand for .

  20. Fred the Piemaker says:

    The Premier lightly brushes over the fact that the idea that the new court should cost $150-$170 million is because the accountants CIG hired to come up with a plan produced a gold plated Rolls Royce model. Doesn’t mention that the judiciary would happily settle for a cheaper solution – heard that even a $40m version was rejected. And the chutzpah in suggesting that the courts request is somehow unreasonable because the same government has also failed to deal with other pressing needs is breathtaking. We have completely ignored them, so who are you to criticize us for ignoring you is about the size of it. In the meantime we’ll happily keep pouring money down the Cayman Airways and Turtle Farm drains whilst crime spirals out of control, and suspects are on bail free to commit more crime because there is no room in the prison and the court capacity delays their trial for months if not years.

    • anon says:

      Piemaker, at 7:51pm: you mean that it is the government-appointed consultants who came up with the $150-170 million plan the Premier is complaining about? Unbelievable! And complaining about the CJ not having a plan because his government came up with a plan he rejects?

      And also to learn by an earlier poster that the Premier’s govt also rejected a $4 million purchase of land to build in accordance with an earlier suggested plan!

      And that there are temporary measures being addressed — and have been in place for sometime now.

      Seems to me that the CJ has a plan— many plans in fact.

      Mr Premier—what’s yours? Or are you going to wait until we pay the sad price of justice delayed, and of rising inflation that will make even this latest plan seem reasonable?

  21. West bay Premier says:

    I don’t know who really has a plan, but I think that the Judges see something is needed to be done . But the Premier need to put on his thinking hat and see the reasons why there’s a need for another Court House .

  22. Anonymous says:

    He is correct.

  23. Anonymous says:

    We cannot afford to spend between $150 million and $180 million for things we need, but it’s O.K. to spend over $300 million for a dock we don’t need. That doesn’t make sense to me. We need better leadership.

    • Chris Johnson says:

      Assuming there would be sufficient car parking why not build the court house where the glasshouse stands.

      • Anonymous says:

        It better come with gallows as we sure need them!

      • Anonymous says:

        8:27am the Glasshouse withstood the forces of Ivan, but they were hell bent to demolish it. That building could’ve been utilized for various purposes, only to be packaged as a present to the deepest pocket on island. Certain individuals, the rich and famous are buying up or given all the properties of value. The building could’ve served as courthouse or house other government offices that are being housed elsewhere.
        It would cost to renovate and sanitize, but the structure has proven its strength. Just food for thought. Veni, Vidi, Vinci (I came, I saw, I conquered).

    • Anonymous says:

      If it’s too rough for cruise ships to stop in, how are they going to dock up when they build a $300 million port out in open ocean. Won’t they have the same excuses/problems and pass by? The port should’ve been relocated to Red Bay.

  24. BELONGER says:

    I agree with the Premier 100% on this issue. Govt owns enough crown land around Grand Cayman to designate a parcel(s) for such a facility when we can afford it in the future.

    Why do we need to spend 4 M on a piece of upscale commercial
    property when luxury type town houses and condos are being built on filled in swamp land in South Sound and other locations, and sold for $400 K to expat lawyers and other white collar workers for PR purposes ?

    Build the damn court house in filled in swamp land up by Fairbanks Prison or Northward Prison if need be.

    • Anonymous says:

      The cost of the land is a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of building the actual building

      They spent almost a million consulting on the issue, what is another 4 to buy some land?

    • Anonymous says:

      Another example of lack of vision and misplaced priorities by successive Governments. Justice delayed is justice denied.

      • Anonymous says:

        1:25pm, they should try and dispose of cases, instead, you read that cases are put off until, until. Most cases are put off for months or year after year. You are paid a salary, earn it by trying and disposing cases. Tired of calling, put off until, and the put off goes on an on.

    • Anonymous says:

      Northward is a residential area there is no infrastructure, no businesses and no public facilities to support a court why is the smart idea to push the court away from town
      (and the tourists perhaps)

      We all know the Caymanian disposition fix up GT and WB and fuck the rest of the islands right?

  25. Anonymous says:

    Yeah you should have a plan like…”first you get the power, then you get the rich benefactor, then you screw the people that gave you the power, then you retire fat and rich”

  26. Anonymous says:

    Bwoy, arrogance and contempt. Quite a combination and un-befitting a Premier and a Lawyer.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Yes, the CJ should stop being negative and praise the government like the premier said in his speech. Of course we would not need a new court house if we got crime under control.

    • Ironside says:

      As I’ve said before, right here on CNS, Crime is a Business!

      It’s a business for every lawyer, policeman, court clerk, security officer and certainly the judges!

  28. Anonymous says:

    Alden is like a little child. Just fix it. You guys can find money for all kinds of stupidity, find something worth spending our hard earned money on.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Turning more Trumpian by the day

    • Anonymous says:

      Trumpian… I hope with all my heart we do. Wish the world had a few thousands like President Trump.?

  30. Mirror Mirror says:

    The battle of two massive egos has begun.
    Both men have mastered the art of mismanagement with no realistic idea about cost containment or value for money illustrated by their passion projects like the new court house for the CJ vs the cruise dock and Clifton Hunter school in frank sound by the Premier.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Sorry but in what jurisdiction is the Chief Justice, or other High Court official responsible for planning a new government building the Executive Branch of the government would be responsible for acquiring land, building the facilities and keeping the facilities funded.
    Surely the minister for Planning and infrastructure, District Admin or Home Affairs would be the one responsible for the new government building (note that all of those ministries are split up among different ministers)

    OF COURSE WB and GT are getting new police stations, while I admit they are needed I can’t help but wonder if the fact that out of the 12 MLAs not including the speaker on the Government benches 9 are from either GT or WB, meaning they can all go back in 2021 and say ‘I helped organize/ supported a police station here in GT/WB”

    Meanwhile in Bodden Town it takes 40 minutes for police to respond to a call (that is if they even show up)

    I’m not gonna accuse anyone of favoring the portions of the island but it is food for thought
    I would surely hope that other portions of the islands are being looked at as well

    • nauticalone says:

      I was thinking the same as your first paragraph!

    • Anonymous says:

      Problem. The people in your first paragraph haven’t built the new courthouse for 30 years, so the judiciary is having to push whatever levers they can.

  32. Anonymous says:

    great! i agree with premier…..and yes, i a native….?

  33. Anonymous says:

    Wow… ridiculous.

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