Courtroom sports new look

A former sports attire store has been converted into the Cayman Islands’ newest courtroom.

Acting Magistrate Grace Donalds presided over the first session of Summary Court to be held in the newly designated courtroom in the erstwhile showroom of Winners Circle Sports, the ground floor retail store for athletic shoes and clothing in Kirk House on Albert Panton Avenue.

Ms Donalds played a major role in the establishment Tuesday of this new milestone for the administration of justice in Cayman. So did Crown Counsel Kenneth Ferguson, defense attorney Richard Barton and court marshal Paul Anglin, and a few private citizens summoned to court that day.

Marking the presence of a courtroom in the new location is the daily court list, bearing a large bold number 7 on the door.

The facility is the latest in a series of measures to cope with increasing numbers of court cases.

On Tuesday, four magistrates and eight Grand Court judges had to be accommodated. Court 1 was used for a Grand Court jury trial; Court 2 for Summary Court mentions with Chief Magistrate Nova Hall; Court 3 for a judge-alone Grand Court trial; Court 4 for traffic with Acting Magistrate Eileen Nervik; Court 5 for a Financial Services Division matter; Court 6 for a Summary Court mention and trial before Magistrate Kirsty-Ann Gunn. Five judges worked in their chambers, where family and civil cases involving a small number of people could be dealt with.

That arrangement left Magistrate Donalds’s court without a room.

Court administrator Kevin McCormac said using the Winners Circle space was a decision made literally 24 hours beforehand because of the court schedule. Given the absence of any sensible alternative, he explained, holding court there was better than the alternative, which would have been to put off cases.

Winners Circle is still very much in evidence, with bright red, blue, yellow and some green paint on walls or pillars and a shiny aluminium display area. But furniture has been moved in to provide storage, a desk for the magistrate and prosecution, a table for the defense bar, seating for the marshal, witness, spectators and an officer at the door. Hurricane shutters remain closed so that street traffic is not a distraction to people inside, and proceedings are not on view to people outside.

“Hopefully, within the next six weeks, the space will become a properly designed, decorated and structured courtroom available for regular use,” Mr. McCormac told the Caymanian Compass.

There are two large courtrooms and one small courtroom in the Law Courts Building; Kirk House will now have one large courtroom and three smaller ones.