Court changes slated

Changes to Cayman’s criminal
procedures – most of which were announced early this year – have been proposed
in a bill that the Legislative Assembly could consider in January.

The Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment)(No.
2) Bill, generally seeks to speed criminal cases through the court system by
eliminating some of the issues attorneys have claimed slow the criminal justice
process.

One of the major changes would
allow an individual to be tried for murder at the same time they are tried for
other offences that may have been committed in connection with the killing.
Now, those offences must be tried separately.

A recent example of this is the
case of Larry Prinston Ricketts. Ricketts whose life sentence for murdering
Estella Scott-Roberts has been affirmed, must now stand trial separately for
allegedly abducting, raping, and robbing her as well. 

Another step proposed in the
amendment bill is the elimination of long-form preliminary inquiries
altogether. Those inquiries are essentially mini-trials held in Summary Court
that decide whether there is enough evidence to send a case to the Grand Court.

Attorney General Sam Bulgin has
said he would like to get the system to a point where a suspect charged with a
Class A offence – the most serious of criminal offences – would have to make
just one appearance in Summary Court before the case is moved to the Grand
Court.

“There’s no point in having the
matter languish before the magistrate,” Mr. Bulgin said during a lengthy
interview in March. 

That is now what the amendment to
the Criminal Procedure Code seeks to accomplish.

“Where a charge has been brought in
a Summary Court against a person in respect of a Category A offence, the court
shall transmit the matter forthwith to the Grand Court for hearing…” the
proposed bill reads.

During the earlier interview, the
attorney general said he was aware that many members of the public are calling
for stricter sentences for criminals. However, Mr. Bulgin said he is not sure
how much further sentencing options can go in the Cayman Islands.

The amendments to the Criminal
Procedure Code have changed the maximum sentences for certain Class C criminal
offences like threatening violence and assault causing actual bodily harm, but
change little else with regard to sentencing.

Current maximum prison sentences
for murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery, aggravated burglary,
and kidnapping are all life in prison. Judges have no other option but to give
a convicted murderer a life prison sentence in Cayman.

Firearms-related offences carry a
maximum 20-year sentence and a minimum 10-year sentence, unless there are extraordinary
circumstances determined by a judge – in which case a minimum sentence of seven
years can be applied.

There is also a maximum 20-year
sentence for anyone convicted of membership in a gang or who participates in
gang activities. However, that section of the Penal Code has never been used in
any Cayman Islands criminal case.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Here is a much needed change where everybody wins. Anybody in a position to make this suggestion, please feel free to do so.

    Motor vehicle violations (tickets) be they parking or speeding ticket.

    Last time I got a speeding ticket (31 in a 25), I went in to pay it about four days later. The officer had not yet submitted his stub so they couldnt accept payment.

    Then when I went back a second time, they said it was too late to pay and I need to go to court. I went across the street, was screened at the door, went into the office, met with somebody who handled my paperwork, set a date for me to come back… which I did.

    I then went up to a courtroom where there was a stenographer, a police officer, a judge and a crown. I explained my story and was told go downstairs get the release paperwork so that I could go … back across the street and pay my ticket.

    I am sure that this process in time and manpower must have cost the government at least one thousand dollars.

    My suggestion and solution is that we adapt a system like many other jurisdictions whereby… if you are late paying your ticket the fine doubles.

    Now instead of losing 900 every time somebody pays their ticket late, the government can double its revenue without increasing its costs.

    While I would not be happy about having to pay the double fine, it is my fault for being late and it is a better alternative than having to show up on three different days.

    This is one of those rare changes the government can make where everybody wins.

    The Government costs go down, revenue goes up and the people save time and indirectly … money.

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  2. Mr. Samuel Bulgin quoted During the earlier interview, the attorney general said he was aware that many members of the public are calling for stricter sentences for criminals. However, Mr. Bulgin said he is not sure how much further sentencing options can go in the Cayman Islands.

    So Mr. Bulgin in light of the increase in crimes and the advancement of the types of crimes are you then SURE OF LENIENCY!

    Would that be your other option or will you give this your best shot?

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