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No word yet on future of current courts
THE jury is still out on what will be the future of the centuries-old buildings at Coleridge Street in the City, which are currently the home of this island’s judicial courts.
Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, Freundel Stuart, told the media yesterday that the future use of the old buildings, which currently house the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, the Registration Department, Community Legal Services Department and the Court Process Office, is still being discussed. He disclosed that he has received recommendations for possible use from a committee established for that purpose, which was chaired by the Chief Justice Sir David Simmons and those recommendations, he said, are currently receiving his attention.
His comments came after a tour of the long-awaited new multi-million dollar headquarters of the judiciary at Whitepark Road by Prime Minister David Thompson, Chief Justice Sir David Simmons and several Cabinet Ministers yesterday morning.
Additionally, he said that the Cabinet has also established a committee of which he is Chairman, to at look at how best the buildings can be utilised. Stuart said that in the fullness of time, he will be able to give more details on the matter. Speaking in the House of Assembly last October, the Attorney General had stated that it was suggested that the location become the new home of the certain magistrate courts, with a view of further centralising the magistracy.
Meanwhile, he told members of the media that the hope is that the departments to be housed at the new complex would be moving very early next month.
“...That is the kind of time frame from which we are trying to operate and trying to get all the loose ends tied off so that we can effect a smooth transfer and get on with work from this building,” he noted.
Moreover, he said that the new rules of the Supreme Court will also come into effect in a few weeks, and will add to the “whole new outfit” for the justice system. These improvements, he stated, should lay the foundation for the alleviation of the backlog of cases currently before the courts.
The Attorney General, making reference to the technology to be used in the court rooms at the new justice complex, explained that some amendments will have to be made to the Evidence Act to bring the provisions of that Act in line with the new conditions and requirements that they call for.
The new three-storey facility boast of 10-plus courtrooms, technologically outfitted with video and audio feeds to aid court transcript reporters; plasma televisions for viewing by the public in the courtroom; similar screens for the attorneys, judges and clerks; and videoconferencing abilities in at least three courtrooms for cases, where contact between the victim and the defendant may cause trauma.