Criminal Courts in Jamaica to be Outfitted with Advanced Technology

KINGSTON, Jamaica – At least three criminal courts will be outfitted with advanced technology by the beginning of the new legal year, commencing in late September.

The purpose of the new technology is to produce transcripts of evidence, as part of the Government’s 10-year Justice Reform Programme.

Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Dorothy Lightbourne, made this disclosure at the official launch of the Regional Conference on the Media and the Caribbean Justice System, Wednesday (September 3), at the Hilton Hotel in Kingston.

“The Supreme Court has been wired up for that technology, the computers have been received by the Ministry and the software is already installed, and additionally, the judge’s software has also been installed. We are hoping for all the court rooms, especially the criminal court rooms, set up with this facility in the new legal year, which starts in a few weeks in September,” the Minister informed.

“The Ministry of Justice is making significant headway with Government’s commitment to the 10-year Justice Reform Programme, which will be supported by the necessary policy decisions and resources. Part of this programme is the use of increased technology and that is where we come together to have technology in our court houses,” the Minister stated, while noting that the technology would be beneficial.

She explained that the action would result in the speedier disposal of cases. “At present, transcripts of evidence are not produced in trials and often not produced until the matter goes to appeal, but we are now moving towards bringing this technology to our courts,” she assured.

The Minister explained that plans are far advanced in the process and that court reporters are now being trained.

“Our court reporters are now being trained to use computer aided transcriptions to allow for real time production of court transcripts, that is, the evidence that is given will come up on a computer screen on the judge’s table and the judge will be able to see the evidence in a few seconds as it is given,” she pointed out.

“There is a software that allows the judge to edit what is there, make notes and highlight what he wants to remember for later reference,” the Minister added.

According to Senator Lightbourne, technology is now moving to bring justice closer to the public, and members of the public can therefore rest assured that these measures would play a key role in the on-going modernization of the justice system and the speedier disposal of cases before the court.

In the meantime, the Minister is appealing to lawyers to work with the public, in an effort to improve the justice system.

“I wish to take the opportunity to direct a special appeal to lawyers, to remember that as members of the legal profession, we are guardians and caretakers of the justice system and among our responsibilities, is the need to help improve public understanding of the justice system and to help sustain public confidence in it,” she said.

Miss Lightbourne cited a number of ways in which lawyers could fulfill their obligations to improve the justice system.

“We can go to the classrooms and speak to our children, use the call-in programmes and submit columns to the print media on various legal issues,” she said.

The Regional Conference on the Media and the Caribbean Justice System is being sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), TV Court and LaBurn Productions, Home Style Juices and FirstCaribbean International Bank. (JIS)

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