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Concerns Over Backlog And Lack Of Judges In Grand Bahama

By DENISE MAYCOCK

Tribune Freeport Reporter

dmaycock@tribunemedia.net

A GRAND Bahama attorney has expressed concern about the lack of judges and long delay in trial dates for criminal matters at the island’s Supreme Court.

K Brian Hanna said there is only one sitting judge for civil matters and that all criminal matters in the Supreme Court have been given lengthy adjournment dates.

“That is of utmost concern. We need more judges here as soon as possible; they need to pay some attention to the Supreme Court and stop treating Grand Bahama as second class,” he said.

Although there are two more courtrooms available, Mr Hanna said there is one sitting Supreme Court judge who is inundated with civil matters.

“She is overburdened, and you have people waiting two and three years to get a judgment. It is of utmost importance… that those in charge look at filling the vacancy at the Supreme Court. We already have a backlog, and parents are knocking down my doors… asking about trial dates for their children, and I cannot provide them with a date. We need more judges here as soon as possible.”

Due to the absence of a judge for criminal matters, Mr Hanna claimed that criminal matters have been adjourned to 2023. He indicated that the long delay for matters to come to trial can discourage witnesses who sometimes lose interest and withdraw themselves from the case.

“Another issue is that persons are on remand for three, four, and five years before they get before a judge and jury to hear the merits of their care – it is unfair.”

Mr Hanna believes that there are enough educated lawyers that are qualified to sit as judges who can be appointed and given the opportunity.

“They should not be selective and biased as to who sits on the bench and utilises the educated talents at the Bar,” he said.

The attorney was also concerned about the storage of old furnishings that are still sitting in the foyer of the courthouse building in both the Magistrate’s and Supreme Courts.

Mr Hanna said that contractors have done a good job with major renovations of the courthouse building, but old furnishings are still piled up in the foyer.

“It is unnecessary that they should have old stuff there that is supposed to be discarded. It has been close to eight to nine months since the courthouse has been completed, and the old chairs and desks are unacceptable and create a hazard… for people accessing courts,” he complained.

Parking is also an issue for judges, magistrates and attorneys, the lawyer said.

“There is no place and no provision that has been made for attorneys to park; there is nowhere to park at all,” he claimed.

Mr Hanna said that secure, safe parking for judges is still not completed and ordinary citizens attending court are parking in the area reserved and allocated for judges.

Also, he said, magistrates have to park in general parking with ordinary citizens. “There are no safe provisions for judges and magistrates to park their cars,” he said.

Attorneys, he said, also have difficulty finding parking at the courthouse. “I would greatly appreciate it if there is somewhere for us to park. I would like to see parking for attorneys,” he said.

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