Court introduces criminal bench book

Monday, March 20, 2017

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Jamaica judiciary is introducing a “criminal bench book” to help judges in crafting summations to juries in criminal matters.
Chief Justice Zaila McCalla said that the book is “designed to save judicial time in the preparation of summations, and to assist in the delivery of consistently predictable, accurate and clear directions to the jury.”
The book was funded by some £60,000 provided by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and co-ordinated by the Crown Prosecution Service team based at the British High Commission, along with judges of the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, and retired judges.
A joint statement from the Court Management Services and the British High Commission said the book consists of procedures that are used in other jurisdictions, and judges may find them helpful in their summations.
Chief Justice McCalla advised judges to make consultations with counsel before implementing any of the innovations contained in the book. This, she said, would minimise the grounds for appeal and reduce the possibility of attorneys being taken by surprised during summations.

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