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Friday 19 July 2019
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Attorneys get stern warning from appellate judges

Hall of Justice, Port of Spain
Hall of Justice, Port of Spain

ATTORNEYS are being urged to be ready to proceed with their client’s appeals on the date it is set for hearing.

“We cannot continue to conduct business like this. People are sitting in jail wanting to know what is going on with their matters and it is being treated flippantly,” Appeal Court judge Justice Alice Yorke-Soo Hon bemoaned after she and her colleagues, Justices Prakash Moosai and Mark Mohammed, had to adjourn two appeals on Thursday because attorneys were not ready to proceed.

Soo Hon reminded attorneys that when matters are listed for hearing, and are not heard, a day is wasted, and when appeal dates are vacated, it creates a domino effect, affecting other appeals in the queue.

“This is unacceptable. Attorneys must be ready. We (judges) get the blame. You hear talk of delays and backlogs, but no one considers attorneys not filing (submissions) on time.

“There are people with matters on the list and have to wait their turn,” she said, warning that from now on, unless attorneys are ready to proceed with appeals on the day they are listed, the cases will return to the cause list for new dates to be set.

“Let people sit down in jail as long as their clients want them to sit there,” she said.

Cause lists are list of cases awaiting a hearing to determine the readiness of the parties .

Moosai said he was shocked, when he came across to the criminal appeals section, by the numerous requests for adjournments of cases set for hearing, pointing out that on the civil appeals side, cases are rarely adjourned, and this is only done once a good reason is advanced.

Appellate court judges have, in the past, advocated for the Criminal Procedure Rules to apply to criminal appeals, and for judges to be given the power to impose sanctions on attorneys for failing to meet deadlines set by the court.

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