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Thursday 15 November 2018
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Law Assn should focus on late prisoner arrivals

SHARLENE RAMPERSAD

ONE major factor to the delay in trials is the late arrival of prisoners.

And according to High Court judge Maria Wilson, these delays are what the Law Association and other related bodies should focus on. Wilson was presiding over the start of a trial in the San Fernando High Court Third Assizes on Wednesday when she made the remarks.

“We need to find some way to address the late arrival of prisoners, it contributes in a great way to the delay of matters,” Wilson said. “The Law Association can focus on this, the Association of Criminal Lawyers, the Southern Assembly of Lawyers, they can focus on this,” Justice Wilson said.

She said there is a huge problem with prisoners not being in court or arriving late to court that she does not intend to tolerate any longer. Another burning issue that contributes to delays in trials is the tardiness and unexplained absences of attorneys, which Wilson labelled disrespectful and unprofessional.

“The second issue is that attorneys do not appear for their matters, attorneys are contributing to the delay in our systems, by not appearing, and not sending letters to the court to explain their absence or coming late to court- I think it is most disrespectful and unprofessional.” Wilson said the last time she spoke out about attorneys acting unprofessionally, she was criticized.

“The last time I said that in a public forum I was criticized but it is the truth, anybody who sits in this court will see that I have a problem almost on a daily basis with attorneys not appearing or attorneys coming late and attorneys not being courteous enough to send communications to the court. This must stop.”

She said delays cannot be dealt with in isolation and also highlighted issues with legal aid representatives. “I beg and plead for the Law Association to focus on issues like this if they want to address the delays. The other one is to have sufficient lawyers to represent accused persons, not many people want to do legal aid.

“This has to be addressed we cannot speak about delays in isolation or make it sensational when it appears that there are long delays in matters coming to trial when the truth might be that attorneys are not appearing.”

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