$14m in outstanding sums paid to jurors
MORE than $14 million has already been paid over to jurors by the Court Management Services (CMS) as the entity tries to clear up a huge backlog of claims filed prior to it becoming fully operational in 2010.
The outstanding money was paid to jurors who had filed claims between 2008 and 2011, as part of efforts to improve and enhance the operations of the island's courts.
Executive officer of the CMS, Deborah Gardner, noted that while there was still $1.4 million outstanding in juror claims, primarily due to the placement of inaccurate tax registration numbers (TRNs) on claim forms or the failure to affix the TRN on the forms. She said her entity had also embarked on a number of other initiatives geared towards improving and enhancing service delivery within the local courts.
"Registries at the Supreme Court have been provided with six scanners to assist in their records management activities. Thirty-three computers, 10 printers and nine photocopiers were also purchased and installed at RM courts," she said.
Other improvements to the court system also includes the installation of a voice over internet protocol (VOIP) telephone solution which is expected to result in a reduction in telephone costs at the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal. The website for the Supreme Court was also upgraded in June 2011 so that the public can easily access information.
There have been calls from varying sectors of the society over the past few years for an improvement in the island's courts to better facilitate the judicial process. The CMS was first established in 2008 by the Government, through a collaboration between the Ministry of Justice and the Public Sector Modernisation Division, to assist with the restructuring of the institutional framework of the courts and to ensure their judicial independence.
Since the operationalisation of the CMS in 2010, the entity has conducted a number of training and development workshops for the judiciary, magistracy and court administrative staff in areas of criminal case management, judicial writing and ethics and the treatment of child witnesses in court. They have also focused on issues such as the practices and procedures for sentencing, and the building of capacity in records management and leadership among court administrators.
Gardner explained that the CMS will also begin the review of the organisational structure of courts and do further expansion of the night courts. She said they also intend to improve the level of security offered to officers of the courts in partnership with the security force.