Chief justice reveals plans for district courts

| 13/01/2023 | 15 Comments
Cayman News Service
CJ Margaret Ramsay-Hale at the 2023 Grand Court Opening

(CNS): Chief Justice Margaret Ramsay-Hale has revealed plans to introduce district courts to help maintain the momentum in clearing the summary court backlog of criminal cases and take justice closer to the people, starting with a pilot later this year in West Bay. The country’s top judge said that the courts will lose access to the George Town Town Hall as it is undergoing renovations this year and that using sites in the districts will act as a replacement and offer other benefits.

Ramsay-Hale unveiled this and other plans she has in store for the judiciary this year as she presided over the annual opening of the Grand Court on Wednesday for the first time in her role as chief justice.

“The whole idea of circuit courts is to take justice to the people,” she said. “I think it will be well received by the residents in the districts. It will ease the congestion in George Town. It surely is not right to have to park at A.L. Thompson and walk to come to court because there is no parking in the neighbourhood,” she said to the amusement of the audience, adding that it will also create space and rationalise the delivery of justice.

With the introduction of a data-led “blueprint for a framework for court excellence”, which she also outlined during her address, Ramsay-Hale said that the success of the district court pilot would be monitored and measured. She said this framework would inform the areas where the courts are under-performing and give management the tools to drive performance forward.

“I don’t like making decisions shooting from the hip. I think in today’s world where we have the facility of capturing data we should use the data to inform our decision-making,” she said as she explained the concept of international standards and data-driven justice.

She said the work on eleven measures to be evaluated would begin in March, covering every aspect of the courts’ system, from how long it takes to clear cases to the best use of resources. The chief justice said the whole process would begin with a survey of the judicial staff, because of all those involved and using the courts, they have “felt the least engaged”.

Currently, the only real data the courts are capturing is the disposal rate, which showed last year they managed a clearance rate of more than 100%, which the court needed to maintain and improve to stay on top of the backlogged cases.

Ramsay-Hale said that in the Grand Court last year, 102 criminal indictments were filed and 104 were disposed of after 77 cases were carried over. In the Summary Court, 872 criminal cases were filed and 943 cases were disposed of after well over 400 were brought forward from 2021.

See the Grand Court opening on CIGTV below:

Share your vote!

How do you feel after reading this?
  • Fascinated
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Bored
  • Afraid
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Tags: , , ,

Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (15)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

    What we really need are District juries. People who really know the defendants.

    • Good start says:

      Good idea with district courts.How are the court cases cleared if they were carried over to next year?How about Saturday courts or are the court staff too special to work on Saturday?

    • JTB says:

      Why? Courts are supposed to judge the evidence, not the fact that they know the defendant’s family.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Since there will be no suitable existing space, we apparently will need 5 or 6 new buildings to sit idle on most days. Like the North Side police station. That’s good for the concrete business I guess, but I don’t really see why a town of 60,000 needs multiple court houses. Multiple prisons would be more useful. Where is that new prison bty?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Cayman Brac and Little Cayman had a district court for decades – perhaps we could learn something from there.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Can we construct district pillories too? Kirk, Fosters, and Hurley’s have plenty of spoiled fruit and produce we can put to good use.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I’m guessing she didn’t discuss this with any lawyers before announcing it. Lawyers are often dashing from court to court with multiple cases listed during the same session. That’s fine if they are in the same building. If they’re a 20 minute drive away, not so much.

  6. Anonymous says:

    If West Bay is closer to the people awaiting and facing justice, then that’s saying something from the Chief Justice. Might as well clear out the West Bay Public Library for a few hours a day and use that space. Not a lot of book learning going on, clearly.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Can we also have district planning boards? that way we can have a real say in what gets built next door rather than having to bear the burden of the current ivory tower board strucutres

    • Anonymous says:

      There should be district zoom calls where you dial in by voter id

    • Anonymous says:

      The Sister Islands have their own Development Control Board. AND, they are exempted from most of the regulation that are part of the Planning Law. What makes them so special? However, if the effectiveness of the CB&LC board is any indication, your idea of each district having its own board might not be such a great one. On Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, building and subdivision sites are routinely bulldozed flat as a parking lot with no regard to preserving tress or preserving legally protected species of flora or fauna. Moreover, the protective beach ridge is routinely pushed away at development sites all over the island.

  8. Anonymous says:

    sounds sensible and more reality than previous chief justices who claimed we should have huge new luxurious court buildings in the heart of the capital…..

    • Anonymous says:

      Luxurious? Have you see it? The courtrooms are basic – not enough room fir more than 1 or 2 suspects and then the rest as been turned in to large offices for the maladministrators who are always AWOL….


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.