The Governor, Mr. Stuart Jack, learned first-hand how cramped are the environs in which the hard-working and dedicated personnel of the Cayman Islands Courts function on a daily basis.
At the invitation of Chief Justice Anthony Smellie, Mr. Jack toured the Courts premises on Thursday 15 December. He was warmly welcomed and conducted around the premises by the Chief Justice and Courts Administrator Delene Cacho, according to a Government Information Services release.
Notwithstanding the limited space in the Chief Justice’s Chambers, Mr. Jack had in-depth discussions, as the first order of business during his visit, with the top echelon of the Courts hierarchy – the Chief Justice, the High Court Judges, the Summary Court Magistrates, the Courts Administrator and the Clerk of the Courts.
The Chief Justice noted that Mr. Jack would have already had the opportunity to become acquainted with the members of the other two branches of government – legislative and executive. He therefore felt it was time the recently arrived Governor should meet the judiciary and judicial administration.
The unhurried deliberations touched on several issues that impinge on and emanate from the justice system.
Subjects included congestion in the courts and the plans for more spacious premises, sentencing options in use and the need and usefulness of alternate sentencing options for judges and magistrates, particularly with a view to reducing recidivism and in light of overcrowding at Northward Prison.
Spirited discussion was sparked by issues surrounding the efforts by the courts to enhance the public’s access to justice; the legal aid system; and the scarcity of lawyers available for criminal representation in a jurisdiction well serviced by abundant legal talent in the commercial and corporate sectors.
Also discussed were problems with the summons system.
Mr. Jack, who arrived and was sworn in on 23 November by the Chief Justice, is on a fast-paced, wide-ranging programme of familiarization visits to sectors of government as well as to other aspects of public and private areas of interest.
He shared with the justices, magistrates and heads of the courts administration his impressions of Cayman so far, commenting: ‘I have enjoyed enormously my time here, which has been a whirl of activity.’
He said he has been consciously trying to meet as many people and visit as many institutions as possible. ‘Everyone has been very welcoming.’
In addition to the Chief Justice, who led the discussions and the Courts Administrator, others involved were Mrs. Justice Priya Levers and Mr. Justice Alexander Henderson of the Grand Court; Magistrates Grace Donalds, Margaret Ramsay-Hale and Nova Hall; and Clerk of the Courts Valdis Foldats.
The Governor was also escorted to Kirk House, where he greeted staff of the Courts cash office and viewed the electronically-equipped Court 5.