With increased concerns about the backlog of criminal cases here, Attorney-at-Law Trudy Glasgow has said this matter could be resolved soon as plans are being made to recruit another criminal court judge.
Glasgow told Saint Lucia News Online (SNO) in a recent interview that while the backlog of cases remain a major concern for the island, the authorities, from her understanding, are making every effort to tackle the issue and plans to add another judge to the bench to deal specifically with criminal matters.
“There is a lot going on in the background to improve the situation and to try and get another criminal judge in place shortly,” she explained.
The attorney told SNO that there are many reasons for the backlog of cases and this issue is widespread.
While noting that there is room for improvement in this particular area, Glasgow indicated that strides have been made to improve the court system. According to her, there is a judge who schedules a specific time for cases.
“While this may not mean anything to someone who never been to court, it means something for those who do,” she added.
As a result of this move made by the judge, Glasgow said she was able to meet with two clients before she attended court recently, which she explained does not usually happen. This is a new means of assisting not only lawyers, but those seeking legal assistance.
Normally, people attend court sessions at 9 a.m. and wait until they are called without having any fixed time. However, with the new scheduling system, clients and their lawyers now have a time to work with and do not waste an entire day waiting for their cases to be called. Glasgow pointed out that this is one of the gradual improvement within the judiciary.
The attorney told SNO while she does not specialise in criminal matters, she is of the opinion that there are many reasons for the backlog of cases on the island, including finding legal representation for an accused.
Glasgow explained in the case of serious criminal offences, there may be further difficultly in securing a lawyer for the accused. She recognised that defendants are not always cooperative in situations where the State appoints a defence lawyer.
“These are things that happen in the background that members of the public are not aware of,” she said.
Saint Lucia continues to witness an increasing number of backlog of criminal cases. Many people accused of a crime and are not granted bail remain on remand for a long time before their matter goes to trial. Persons working in the legal profession here have called on government, along with the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force, to look at strategies in addressing this matter.
At present, there is only one criminal judge, who sits on the High Court bench. The appointment of a new judge is expected to ease the current lag in criminal hearings.
Speaker of the House of Assembly Peter Foster recently said that serious attention must be paid towards improving the administration of justice on the island and advancing crime-solving. Attention to these issues, he said, will also assist with the backlog of cases.