Case management review under way

A review of procedures in Cayman’s Summary Court system is under way in an effort to help deal with the slow progress of cases through the criminal justice system.

An adviser, seconded to the Department of Public Prosecutions from the U.K.’s Crown Prosecution Service, arrived on island Jan. 27 to assist with the review.

Criminal Justice Adviser Claire Wetton will be in Cayman for the next three months to advise on processes and procedures that could help improve the efficiency of the overloaded Summary Courts.

“I will consider and advise on ways in which some processes can be enhanced or simplified, to reduce the burden on the courts, specifically the summary court and ultimately assist in improving the efficiency of the processes,” she said in a statement.

The case management review was first revealed by Attorney General Sam Bulgin at the official opening of court in January.

At the same ceremony, Chief Justice Anthony Smellie lamented the lack of progress the court system had made in meeting benchmarks for processing cases.

He said there were more than 100 cases awaiting trial dating back a year or more, including one from as far back as 2009 and several from 2010.

The Chief Justice repeated his belief that there was “no hope” of improving on that record without new court facilities.

It is hoped that the case management review will at least lead to some new procedures which could improve the efficiency of the system and alleviate some of the burden on the clogged courtrooms.

“We are grateful for the assistance offered in a review of the Summary Court procedures and issues in order to assist with capacity building in the management of our heavy case load,” Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryll Richards said in a statement.

“We look forward to working closely with Ms. Wetton and have already begun to discuss with her some of the issues faced and suggestions for improvement. We look forward to taking on board any recommendations arising out of this initiative.”

The governor’s office said in a press statement that it was funding Ms. Wetton’s 12-week secondment in an effort to improve the “delivery of justice” in the territory.

“The objective of the posting includes providing help and assistance to the Summary Court Team of the Office of the DPP and to the Court to deal with the most important weaknesses in the criminal justice system,” the statement said.

Governor Helen Kilpatrick said in the statement, “Identifying and improving upon procedures which can assist in the smooth and efficient running of the court system is crucial to reducing criminality in the Cayman Islands.”

Ms. Wetton declined to be interviewed by the Cayman Compass.

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