By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Tribune Chief Reporter
CHIEF Justice Brian Moree said appropriate disciplinary action was handed to staff who attended and staged a party inside a courtroom earlier this year.
Top judiciary officials investigated the incident after a video of people partying at the Magistrate’s Court went viral on social media in July.
In the 30 second clip, several women were seen on cell phone video gyrating to dancehall music and holding beverages in what appeared to be a courtroom at the Magistrates Court complex on Nassau Street. Several men are also seen dancing in the clip.
Asked about the outcome of the investigation during a virtual press briefing on digital upgrades to come for the judicial system, Mr Moree said: “We did conduct an inquiry into that matter from the point of view of our court staff.
“The issues related to the police were of course dealt with by the Commissioner of Police.
“We made certain conclusions and identified the causes for that incident and appropriate disciplinary proceedings or action was taken.”
However, he did not elaborate on the disciplinary measures.
“The new protocols that we put in place strictly prohibits the use of courtrooms or indeed any rooms or offices in the Magistrates Court for public events or social events without following now a designated procedure, which involves an application, involves the approval, it involves appointing a senior court officer to preside over those court proceedings and it also involves oversight to ensure adherence with strict physical distancing requirements.
“So, we do not expect a recurrence of that event and Mrs Grant our new court administrator in the Magistrates Court is fully engaged in that regard and I don’t think the public will see that happening again.”
A statement by Chief Justice Moree and Chief Magistrate Joyanne Ferguson-Pratt following the incident said the behaviour does not reflect the standards and professionalism of court staff.
“The Office of the Judiciary is aware of the video circulating on social media showing persons dancing and socialising at an event which is said to have occurred in the Magistrates Court Complex on July 9, 2020,” the statement said.
“In response to this, we wish to advise that an internal enquiry into this incident has been launched to determine what actually occurred in the Magistrates Court building, and the facts and circumstances surrounding the events which are partially captured on the video. Appropriate action will be taken in line with the conclusions of the enquiry.
“It is apparent that the individuals in the video are not wearing facial masks and are not complying with the physical distancing requirements. Some of the persons who can be seen on the video appear to be members of the court staff while others do not appear to be employed by the judiciary. The scenes shown on the video do not reflect the standards and professionalism of the members of the court staff in discharging their duties to the public.
“We are cognizant of the importance of preserving the decorum of court buildings and the dignity and fairness of all court proceedings. For these reasons, we regard the incident shown as a serious matter which requires our urgent attention and action consistent with maintaining public confidence in the administration of justice.
“Within the judiciary, our diligent efforts to reform and modernise the court system in the Bahamas will continue. We trust that the results of our endeavours will become apparent to the Bahamian public over the next three to six months as we execute a series of new initiatives in the delivery of justice to all persons in The Bahamas.”