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Judges to use Criminal Bench Book

Tuesday, March 21, 2017    

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Judges now have a Criminal Bench Book to use in the adjudication of criminal matters.

The Court Managemnet Services said in a release yesterday that the Criminal Bench Book is another important step in the continued modernisation of the court system.

The book, according to the release, will be a practical tool that judicial officers can use for guidance when crafting summations to juries in criminal matters before the country’s courts.

Chief Justice Zaila McCalla is quoted in the release as saying 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 also reportedly consists of procedures that are used in other jurisdictions, which judges could find helpful in their summations.

However, the chief justice cautioned that “consultations with counsel should be a consistent element of implementing any of these innovations”.

According to McCalla, such consultations will minimise grounds for appeal and reduce the possibilities of attorneys being taken by surprise during summations.

Meanwhile, British High Commissioner to Jamaica David Fitton is quoted as saying: “This book is evidence of the significant cooperation between the UK and Jamaica in the justice sector. The £60,000 ($9.5 million) allocated for this project affirms the UK’s commitment to supporting the Jamaican Government’s reform of the sector.”

The release said the Criminal Bench Book seeks to ensure that all our judges are equipped with as much “pertinent” information as possible, in adjudicating cases.

“The introduction of the book will maximise the use of judicial time and make the task of conducting detailed legal research less burdensome for judges,” the release said. “Additionally, it will reduce variations in the way juries are directed on specific topics.”

The Court Management Services said the publication of the Criminal Bench Book was made possible by the British High Commission, through the High Commission’s Criminal Justice Team, judges of the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, and retired judges.

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