Magistrate deals with five different situations
Acting Magistrate Grace Donalds had what looked like a full court list last Wednesday when six trial matters were scheduled for her court.
However, defence attorney Prathna Bodden advised that a young man who had pleaded not guilty to wounding needed to apply for legal aid and would be doing so that morning. The case was set for mention again on 18 December.
Ms Bodden then asked the court to call another of her clients, a woman accused of burglary. Crown Counsel Renuka Rambhajan advised that the police officer in the case had broken her arm and was not available to come to court that day. The matter was set for mention again on 27 November.
At 10.54am, the magistrate ordered warrants of arrest with no bail for two men who failed to answer when their names were called for trial on marine offences. The men were later found sitting in Court Room 2, the most used venue for Summary Court, in the Law Courts Building. Magistrate Donalds had been presiding in Court Room 4, across the street at Kirk House.
The lists for the various rooms were posted in the foyer and at the court room doors, but apparently the men had gone to the room they were accustomed to and had not checked for their names.
By the time a court marshal spoke with them, Magistrate Donalds’ court was adjourned for the day. The men were taken to the Criminal Registry for arrangements to be made.
The trial of Kevin Keith Gourzong did not go ahead because he told the court he wanted a lawyer. The magistrate confirmed that three witnesses were present. She then checked the file and noted this was Gourzong’s third trial date. On the first trial date, he had said he wanted a lawyer, she pointed out. The matter was then set for trial in August, when it was put off again until this month.
Gourzong said he was trying to put some money together for a lawyer. “It’s a very serious case,” he asserted.
The charged offence, exceeding 5 knots within 200 yards from the shoreline, was allegedly committed in 2011.
The magistrate set the matter for mention again on 20 November so that a new trial date could be fixed. On that date, she warned, the trial would go ahead with or without a defence lawyer.
The trial of Keith William Barnes, on charges of burglary and handling stolen goods, did not go ahead because Barnes failed to appear. The magistrate issued a warrant for his arrest, not backed for bail.
With all six matters called, court was adjourned for the day although it was well before noon.
On Thursday, when Mrs. Donalds was not sitting, Barnes came to Magistrate Valdis Foldats’ court. Attorney John Furniss spoke for him, saying Barnes apologised for the previous day.
There had been problems in the morning, Mr. Furniss told the court without elaborating. He said Barnes came to court on Wednesday afternoon and was told by the criminal registry to come back the next day.
The magistrate told Barnes he could be remanded in custody for missing his court date. He had not only failed to surrender as required, but he had also inconvenienced the court, staff and witnesses.
The court calendar is crowded, Magistrate Foldats pointed out, and there were other cases that could have been scheduled.
He pointed out that Barnes would most likely be charged for failing to surrender to custody. He ordered Barnes to provide a surety and recognizance, both in the sum of $950 to help him remember his next dates, starting 20 November.
If he does miss court, he and his surety will likely lose their $950 and Barnes may lose his liberty, the magistrate warned.