City magistrates’ courts resumed operations yesterday at the refurbished complex along the Avenue of the Republic, which was reopened after an almost three-year-long closure for renovations.
The historic Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts building, which sits along the Avenue of the Republic between Brickdam and Croal Street, now houses 12 precinct courts.
Since May 2011, courts 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 and 9, which were being housed in the court building, were all relocated to the Globe Trust building on Middle Street, to facilitate the repairs which were being done.
These courts, along with Courts 6, 7 and 10 and the new additions of courts 4, 11 and 12, now occupy spaces in the refurbished building, which caters for the sitting of all the city’s courts in one central location.
Courts 6, 7 and 10 used to be housed in the Jainarine Singh building on Croal Street located aback of the court.
Courts 4, 11 and 12 are housed in a newly attached northern wing of the complex, located on the first floor of the two-storey building. They are not yet sitting, however, as they are yet to be assigned magistrates.
Courts 7, 10, 8 and 9 are located on the ground floor; while the remaining courts are on the first floor.
Among the new additions to the refurbished structure are the installation of smoke and fire alarms, fire extinguishers and air conditioning (AC) units in every courtroom. The courtrooms now cater for a larger seating capacity with the installation of a number of individual seating units. Hallway passages leading to some of the courtrooms are more spacious.
The floor of the courtrooms located on the ground floor is fully tiled with the exception of courts 8 and 9.
Additionally, as opposed to the lone security guard who used to be located at the main entrance of the courtyard, two additional huts have been erected and are each manned by guards. These are located one at each side of the building.
Of note also is the expanded northern section of the courtyard, which houses a standby generator and reserved parking outside the compound for each sitting magistrate.
The proceedings of all the sitting courts commenced smoothly with no known hiccups. While persons were somewhat uncertain as to where the different courts were located, police officers in the courtyard rendered assistance.
Additionally, each courtroom has a sign on its door identifying it as do the various administrative offices of the court.
Several senior police officers were seen in and around the precinct seemingly ensuring that staff members were comfortably settled.Two concerns were, however, expressed to this newspaper regarding noise emanating from the passing vehicular traffic, which disrupted the proceedings of some of the courts.
A source, who requested anonymity, noted that the courtrooms were supposed to have been soundproof with the installation of the AC units.
Another concern regarded the noise generated by one of the AC units in one of the courtrooms, which made hearing across the other corner of the room a challenging exercise.
Chief Magistrate Priya Sewnarine-Beharry presides in Court 1, Magistrate Ann McLennan in Court 2, Magistrate Judy Latchman in Court 3, Magistrate Fabayo Azore in Court 5 and Magistrate Dellon Bess in Court 6. Meanwhile, Court 7 is presided over by Magistrate Chandra Sohan, courts 8 and 9 by Magistrate Faith McGusty and Court 10 by Magistrate Geeta Chandan-Edmond.