Bar Association urges government to improve legal system; obtaining transcripts could take weeks

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Bar Association urges government to improve legal system; obtaining transcripts could take weeks
Andie George, Bar Association president
Andie George, Bar Association president

Given the increasing number of cases that are being brought before the courts on the island, President of the Bar Association Andie George is urging government to take a technological approach or hire stenographers in order to improve the legal system.

George told St. Lucia News Online (SNO) in a recent interview that “the time has come for judges to stop writing longhand”. He said this is one of the reasons for the backlog of cases.

“I think it is necessary that we move away from this archaic system of recording proceedings. We need technology to improve the system so that things could move faster,” he told SNO.

George insists that judges, attorneys and both parties involved in a legal matter should be able to get a transcript of the day’s proceedings at the end of the day. However at present, there is no system that allows this to happen and persons are led to wait days or weeks before they are handed a copy of the actual legal proceeding.

Although there are tape recordings of all proceedings, the attorney believes that the system is not good enough. “Because you have to have someone going through these tapes and trying to transcribe what was said and quite a few of the instances what is being said is lost because the transcriber may not be able to follow what was said on the tape,” he opined.

“The court can acquire through government’s assistance, equipment to allow that to happen and if it were a situation that there is a need for a partnership with the Bar Association, the bar would certainly assist in contributing to attaining that equipment,” George added.

George suggested that in the absence of technology, government should also look at hiring stenographers. “By the end of the day, you can get the proceedings transcribed. We had three trained stenographers and we allowed them to go.”

The training took place three years ago and was funded by government.

However, he recalled that when the stenographers returned home, no equipment was available for them to work with. They were all forced to work in various capacities in the civil service and served a bonding period before leaving. According to him, one of the three individuals is now a practicing lawyer, while the other two have moved to greener pastures.

George has also called for the appointment of a new criminal judge, which he said could also help in improving the legal system. The association head has said that one criminal judge is not enough.

He claims that the current criminal judge is under constant pressure. This, he believes, is also causing the constant backlog of cases, which needs serious attention.

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11 COMMENTS

  1. It's only a preception that lawyers make money. Just like any business there are taxes, rent, electricity, water, staff. Not to mention all other hardships all other citizens go through these days. Top that with a sometimes $300,000 student loan in a struggling economy. Do you know how much 1 legal journal or book cost?

    We should stop assuming that people are making money cause we all know who the real suckers of flesh are. What happen are you affraid to challenge them. Typical Lucian always want to fight down a man trying to make a living honestly but bashful when he is in the presence of the real vampires.

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  2. Maybe it's time for the bar association to step it and donate the necessary equipment need for a stenographer to work. Lawyers make enough money and it will help there profession as well.

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  3. so much nonsense in the justice system. Is there a minister responsible for security and justice? Isnt the PM not aware of that mess

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    • lol,

      This comment made me smile, my first smile for the morning. Thank you Lana,a sense of humour in this world is what is needed sometimes.

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  4. it starts with the Bar Association which has no structure. Under the LPA elections has to be held every two years. When was the last election held? Can the president have de facto powers? A matter of convenience when the bank lawyers represent the bank customers. Is it as conflict of interest? Let us start with a new court house where VC and accused seat next to each other while they wait on their case.

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  5. Andy hit the nail on the head. Technology is the key to improving the overall functioning of ALL aspects of Government, not just the Judiciary.

    Going off tangent a bit:

    Just an example...Imagine having all birth/baptismal/marriage etc. records in a database(s) instead of in these huge books in a bunch of cabinets. When a request is submitted, it "could" be as easy as click and print.

    Or criminal records/complaints in a database. Not to mention fingerprints.

    I could go on and on....

    It baffles me why the Government (whichever one is in power) has not made these things a priority.

    Even though we do not yet have the systems in place, a good place to start would be to at least begin entering this backlog of data into databases, so "when" we finally decide to implement such systems, much of the data would already be in a central location, which would make the initial data entry stage less burdensome.

    As someone in the technology field, I could envision so much more efficiency arising out of this initiative. Less wait times, shorter lines, greater accountability and transparency particularly when errors are made etc. Changes like these would be felt by everyone, especially the general public.

    It really makes me sad that these people who have the power to make such obvious positive and visible changes in our country are too busy playing politics and their desire to really contribute to something good goes out the window.

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  6. We always had this type of thinking. The problem has always been for it to be said by the relevant prominent persons. The biggest issue however whether practical solutions are accepted by impractial people (politicians).

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  7. That's the kind of thinking that Saint Lucia needs right now, practical solution that can have a really positive impact.
    Let's work together to improve things in Saint Lucia.

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