Letters to the Editor

We can't have it both ways, Counsel

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

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Dear Editor,

Prime Minister Andrew Holness is being criticised by lawyers for not making Justice Sykes's appointment final. My colleagues can't have it both ways: All lawyers agree the administration of justice is poor. The prime minister is trying to bring accountability by trying to assess the acting chief justice's ability to administer. This is, in my view, correct and laudable, but I do not believe it to be the best way.

Few lawyers make good administrators. No lawyer in the system, including the acting chief justice, has experience or training in administration or managing the thousands of people in the justice system. It would be better to have a person with experience and proven management ability managing the system and reporting to the chief justice on a list of agreed deliverables.

It is impatient of argument that the system is broken. To fix it the manager must be given tools to deal with a system in which:

1) Judges are incompetent and issue decisions that do not follow higher court precedent.

2) Judges do not deliver judgements within three to six months of a hearing.

3) Judges retire leaving cases that they have heard and have not delivered their judgement. There are several cases in this category; millions of dollars spent on lawyers and no resolution. A great injustice as the wronged party is further wronged by the system and the guilty party goes free.

4) Judges cause a citizen to have their freedom taken without the ability to regain their freedom because their cases are not heard or appeals are delayed for years.

5) Judges are overworked and do not have basic tools to act efficiently.

So, Prime Minister, thank you for your intention, but you must look to the system, otherwise a good judge, as Justice Sykes, will be set up to fail as is the commissioner of police who has no power to dismiss the member of the force he is in charge of.

Malcolm McDonald

Attorney-at-law

Kingston 6

brenzia@mcdmil.com

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