Silence, court in session

Lay magistrate hopes motorists will obey sign

BY RACQUEL PORTER
Observer staff reporter
porterr@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, September 13, 2019

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LAY Magistrate Lorraine Ross-Clunie is hoping that the installation of silent zone signs in the vicinity of the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court on Maxfield Avenue will remind motorists who have been disturbing court proceedings that they should proceed quietly.

Ross-Clunie told the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court last Friday that motorists continue to disturb court sittings by honking their horns and playing loud music while passing the courthouse.

“The noise is unbearable,” she told the Jamaica Observer, adding that she is unable to hear herself during proceedings and as a result has had to wait until the noise has subsided to continue.

Manager of communication and customer service at the National Works Agency (NWA) Stephen Shaw, who was in court, had said the signs would be erected by the end of this month. Shaw had told the court that the signs were procured following dialogue with his colleagues.

However, the NWA had to return the signs to the contractor and terminate the contract because they did not fit the purpose. He explained that when headlights hit the signs, motorists should be able to see them as well. The parish court also has night sittings.

Yesterday, when the Observer checked, two signs were already erected on either side of Maxfield Avenue on approach to the courthouse. Last Friday, Judge Vaughn Smith, while welcoming the initiative, told Shaw that the major roadworks currently being done in the Corporate Area had been depriving the court of water.

Shaw suggested that they should truck water, but Smith quickly stated that they have been ordering water every other day in an attempt to meet the needs of the staff of 80 and the public. Shaw assured Smith that the agency would assist in ensuring that the court has water.

On Monday this week, operation support officer assigned to the Public Safety and Traffic Enforcement Branch of the Jamaica Constabulary Force Gary McKenzie, told the Observer that disobeying the 'Silence' sign is an offence under the Road Traffic Act.

In order to ensure silence in these spaces, the zones are expanded to 100 metres from the compound. McKenzie explained that currently, breach of the legislation will result in a $4,000 traffic ticket and two demerit points from a motorist's driver's licence.

However, when the new Road Traffic Act comes into effect the fine will be increased to $14,000. Anyone who is unable to pay the fine will have to spend three days in jail. Until then, people who disobey the sign have the option to pay the ticket at the tax office or contest it in court.

Noting that the offence is among a number of infractions in the traffic ticket book that the police carry daily, he said each breach has a code for administration purposes. Observance of silent zones does not apply to motorists who drive emergency vehicles.


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