Court operations to resume on a phased basis

Court operations to resume on a phased basis

Friday, May 29, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Judiciary of Jamaica wishes to advise the public that court operations will resume on a phased basis, beginning June 1, 2020.

A statement from Court Administration Division today said the sittings of the Circuit Courts, the Circuit Court Division of the Gun Court for St Catherine and Clarendon, the Western Regional Gun Court, and the High Court Division of the Gun Court for Clarendon will resume on June 1.

A health protocol for the entire court system has been developed and implemented, based on recommendations by the Ministry of Health which will guide the daily operations of the courts.

The health protocol stipulates that:

  • There will be no ceremonial opening for any Circuit Court;
  • There will be no trials involving a jury from June 1 to July 31, 2020 in any of the Circuit Courts;
  • Trials which can be heard without a jury will proceed as scheduled, provided they can be conducted while observing the health protocols issued by the Ministry of Health and Wellness;
  • All jurors summoned for service for the aforementioned circuits are discharged without risk of penalty;
  • Guilty pleas will be accommodated;
  • Criminal trials will not involve more than two defendants.

“While we recognise the fundamental principle of open justice, and continue to seek to give effect to this principle in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become necessary to restrict access to all court buildings to only those persons with matters before the courts until further notice,” the statement said.

It said efforts will be made, as far as possible, given the resource limitations, the need to preserve security and the rules relating to privacy of certain matters, to facilitate public access to proceedings in open court by virtual technology.

Additionally, persons entering court buildings will be required to wear face covering, which should cover their noses and mouths; submit to temperature checks, and to sanitize hands using the alcohol-based solvent provided at the entrance to each court building.

Measures will be strictly enforced.

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