MONTEGO BAY, St James — SEXUAL offences, including a number involving sexual encounters with under-aged children, make up more than 50 per cent of the cases being heard at the Michaelmas session of the St James Circuit Court which opened last week.
Of the 38 cases that are listed to be heard, 21 are of a sexual nature, it was disclosed by lead prosecutor Loxley Ricketts. Another 12 are for murder, four cases are for wounding and one for death caused by dangerous driving.
Eighteen of the cases are new with the others traversed from previous sittings.
In his remarks, Ricketts expressed concern about the small number of potential jurors who had turned up for duties.
Justice Lloyd Hibbert who will be presiding for the duration of the circuit session said, however, that "we would have to work with what we have, we only need 12 persons to make up the panel for a murder case".
He argued that while there was a lot of talk about the failures of the justice system, as well as the backlog of cases, some of this was caused by the lack of people serving as jurors.
"The ordinary people are failing in their duties (to serve)," he said, "the justice system is like a chain and if one link is broken, the chain is broken, so for it to work it needs the inclusion of everyone, the judge, the prosecutors, the defence lawyers...everyone."
Justice Hibbert pointed out that without the proper dispensing of justice, there would be dire consequences for the country on a whole.
"If there is a breakdown in the system of justice and people start taking the law into their own hands, vigilante justice can lead to a state of lawlessness so jurors are an integral part of the system and we can't work without them," he argued.