Lenworth Johnson, the President of the Antigua & Barbuda Bar Association said a shortage of criminal lawyers was affecting the administration of justice in the country.
On Friday, at a special High Court sitting in honour of late attorney John E. Fuller, Johnson revealed, “Presently, there are not enough lawyers practising in the criminal field in Antigua & Barbuda.”
Fuller, a leading criminal defence lawyer, died last month.
“In fact, the situation has reached a crisis point. While there are approximately 150 private legal practitioners, that is, excluding government attorneys, I can count on the fingers of one hand, not even two hands, one hand, the number of dedicated or specialist criminal practitioners in the state,” the bar association president insisted.
Johnson said, “this is clearly not good, for it will affect and is affecting the administration of justice in the country.”
“The situation has recently been made worse by the recent death of Ralph Francis and now John, two prominent criminal attorneys,” he added.
“If there are not enough criminal lawyers to deal adequately and properly with the number of accused persons and charges brought against them then the legal quality of service to those accused persons will diminish or some accused persons will not receive representation at all,” the bar association president cautioned.
Johnson said the association had been thinking about the issue and “we accept that we have to conduct some sort of study or investigation to formally establish the reasons why newly called and other private attorneys are not taking up the mantle in the criminal field and make practical recommendations to remedy the situation. We must at least do this in John’s memory.”
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