Attorney not in support of Government’s Plan to Make Judge-Only Trials Permanent


Attorney Criticizes Government’s Plan to Make Judge-Only Trials Permanent

Attorney-at-law Leon Symister has expressed his disapproval of the government’s move to make judge-only trials a permanent feature in the criminal justice system.

The Criminal Proceedings (Trial by Judge Alone) Act was initially implemented to address the backlog of cases caused by the pandemic’s restrictions on jury trials.

‘However, tomorrow, parliament will meet to amend the act, with the expectation that the new bill will make the measure permanent.

Symister argues that the decision to make judge-only trials mandatory for most cases indirectly erodes the democratic system and the common law’s facet of jury trials.

He believes that the government’s attempt to remove some rights in areas where the majority may not have concerns could set a dangerous precedent for further encroachment.

Nonetheless, he acknowledges that judge-only trials are not unusual in the justice system, citing civil cases as examples.

The original act was meant to remain in force only for the duration of the Covid pandemic, according to Section 1(2).

However, the government’s proposed amendments would make the measure permanent.

The implementation of judge-only trials has garnered mixed reactions, with Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, Her Worship Dame Janice Pereira, advocating for its use in high courts across the Caribbean region.

Pereira believes that it could help reduce the backlog of criminal cases and has no adverse effects on the trial process’s fairness.

Advantages of judge-only trials include the transparency of judges having to explain their rationale for decisions and the protection of judges from intimidation by defendants, which can be a concern with jurors, particularly in small island communities.

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  1. NO, NO, NOOOO! This is dictatorship by the back door, and will open up the door to those in power NEVER coming to justice. ⚖

    You can just imagine when Gaston Browne is eventually held to account for all his current misdemeanours, and he has a paid-up judge in he back pocket.


  2. Chaku needs to stop his lies. The current act has measures in place to ensure the defendant has the final say in regarding whether he/she will accept a judge only trial, with a few exceptions stated in section 6). As was pointed out during the debate of the act, there are times when a judge is best due to complexity o what is being discussed; We may be unable to find a jury is not contaminated. Anyway let me quote the act:

    Section 5 of the act: “Consent of Accused required to be tried by Judge Alone in other cases”

    1) Subject to section 6, every person against whom an indictment has been filed for an offence
    not mentioned in subsection (2) of section 4 of this Act, shall be tried by a Judge and jury
    unless –
    (a) the accused person consents to be tried by a Judge alone in accordance with the
    provisions of this section; and
    (b) the Court makes an Order that the accused person be tried by Judge alone.

    The exceptions stated in section 6:

    a) that in view of the nature and circumstances of the case, there is a danger of jury
    tampering or intimidation of witnesses;
    (b) that a material witness is afraid or unwilling to give evidence before a jury;
    (c) that the case involves a criminal gang element and would be properly tried without
    a jury; or
    (d) that the complexity of the trial or the length of the trial, or both, is likely to make
    the trial so burdensome to the jury that the interests of justice require that the trial
    should be conducted without a jury

    • Come on @ tenman, even you know that what you’ve highlighted can be circumvented by the nefarious and duplicitous.

      If a judge has to adjudicate on cases, maybe so, on the intricacies of financial and fraudulent court proceedings.

      Because the normal juror/layman does not understand the complexities of finance, unless you have a load of accountants and auditors in place. Highly unlikely though!

      Only having a judge to decide cases without jury intervention will only open up a can of worms.

      • @Brix.. you do realize this is the norm globally ie judge (bench) only trails? In the place you reside the defendant has the option of waiving a jury trail. Fact is the majority of trails in the US are not done using a jury. Most of the trails for the jan attack are bench trails . By the way you do know with unanimity needed its easier for a defendant to corrupt a jury trial vs a bench trail? Interestingly most (US) matters (over 90 percent) are settled between the prosecutor and the defendant

    • @tenman, continue to expose the lies of the UPP and its operatives. It is the usual practice of the UPP and its henchmen to attempt to mislead the public. Sadly, many people fall for the nonsense. The worst part about this is that the person the UPP nominated to be Speaker of the House, Sherrie-ann Bradshaw, is a former president of the Bar Association and still hosts a legal programme on ABS TV. Yet, you would never hear her condemning the likes of Chaku when he speaks lies. It’s not surprising, though, after witnessing her absolute ghetto performance on ABS TV on election night. She and Chaku, two known UPP operatives and sympathizers, are a disgrace to the legal profession.

  3. In my state, they just got rid of a judge who had been sexually abusing boys for years. There was a judge in another state who was stalking and threatening people. That judge was also a meth/drug addict. Judges can be corrupt. Jury trials are necessary.

    • My point exactly @ One Bad Judge, but @ tenman and Wash an’ Basin conveniently ignores the possibility of corrupt judges, as if this could NEVER happen.

      Well highlighted 👍

    • @One Bad Judge How many instances has there been of jury tampering ? You don’t think they outweigh instances found of corrupt judges?

  4. Chaku Wakua false teeth drop out again??

  5. seem to be affecting his mind…….rinse and garggle with flouride

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