SAVANNA-LA-MAR, Westmoreland — PRESIDENT of the Cornwall Bar Association Michael Erskine has renewed his call on Government to increase the number of resident magistrates serving Westmoreland as part of efforts to reduce the backlog of cases clogging the justice system.
"Westmoreland needs a third resident magistrate as a matter of urgency. Failure to implement this proposal will lead to chaos and ultimately a failed system in this parish," emphasised Erskine during a telephone interview with the Observer West.
He further noted: "The backlog of cases keep growing despite the best efforts of the (current) two resident magistrates who seem to have their hands full", he added.
Erskine had made a similar call last year during a justice forum hosted at the Montego Bay Civic Centre jointly by the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Cornwall Bar Association.
Citing instances when matters have had to be rescheduled for six months because of the overwhelming number of matters to be shared by the two RMs, Erskine pointed out that a courtroom is sitting idle at the Westmoreland Parish Council building which houses the Westmoreland Resident Magistrate's court.
"On each working day at least 10 to 12 cases are set for trial, which is impossible to accomplish. Therefore, the list keeps getting larger and larger, and the people keep getting more and more frustrated when they keep coming to court only to hear that their cases are being put off," the renowned western Jamaica attorney stressed.
Erskine is further recommending that the underutilised courtroom, which is wedged between the two other rooms, be developed into the main courtroom to facilitate Circuit and other cases.