No new trials


Chief Justice Brian Moree, QC.

ALL new trials have been suspended as the judiciary expands its coronavirus mitigation protocols. Members of the jury pool for each criminal court will be contacted by the respective bailiff to inform them when to return to court.

According to a statement from Chief Justice Brian Moree, arraignments fixed for March 27 are adjourned to May 8 at 10am and until March 31, only urgent bail applications will be heard in the Supreme Court.

The urgent bail judge roster is posted on the judiciary’s website – bahamasjudiciary.com. “Where possible, the hearing will proceed with the lawyer alone in court or by video conference,” Chief Justice Moree said. “If required, the accused person will be in court. In either instance, the in-person hearings will be conducted in accordance with social distancing requirements.”

The statement added that case management conferences and pre-trial reviews are also suspended until the week of April 14 as well as partly heard civil trials in the Supreme Court.

New dates for these matters will be assigned by the respective judge.

In the meantime, only urgent interlocutory applications will be heard. These are applications for injunctions; domestic violence protection orders; child protection orders; orders under the Mental Health Act; orders under international treaties; writs of habeas corpus; and any other orders deemed by the judge to be fit for hearing on an urgent basis.

“The duty civil judge or in a pending case, the assigned judge, will determine if the application is to be heard on an urgent basis,” Mr Moree noted.

All court hearings before registrars are also suspended until after April 14.

The Family Registry, the Probate Registry and the Appeals Registry are closed until March 31. The offices of the Civil Registry located in the BAF Financial Building on George Street will also be closed until the end of the month and will operate out of a satellite office in the Supreme Court.

The offices of the Criminal Registry located on Bank Lane will be closed until the of March and will operate out of a satellite office in the Supreme Court Annex 1, formerly Ansbacher House, during the hours of 1pm – 4pm.

Magistrates Court

Arraignments will proceed subject to social distancing requirements between 10.30am to 2.30pm. Only those who must be in the courtroom will be allowed to enter and no more than 15 people will be allowed at one time.

“Bail applications will proceed under the guidelines applicable to arraignments between 10.30am to 2.30 pm. New trials will be suspended in criminal cases, juvenile cases and coroner inquests until the week of April 14 when the position will be reviewed. A determination will be made at that time with regard to the future course of these trials.”

First pleas in traffic cases are suspended until after March 31; dates of first pleas in traffic cases set for March 23-31are adjourned from the date on which it was to be heard to the same date in the following month. “If the adjourned date falls on a weekend or public holiday, it is adjourned to the next court business day,” the statement noted.

All fines in traffic cases can be paid under current procedures between 10.30am – 2.30pm.

Voluntary bills of indictment will be suspended until March 31. For civil cases in Magistrates Court, new trial dates and partly heard matters are suspended until March 31.

For Family Court - during the period of March 23–31, payments can be made and funds received at the cashier’s counter in the Magistrates Court from 10.30am-2.30pm.

The Chief Justice added that all travel by magistrates for Circuit Court is suspended until April 14 when the position will be reviewed.


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