Suruj: Fix funding woes in T&T Judiciary

 (Trinidad Guardian) Chief Justice Ivor Archie is being blamed for the situation in which the courts now find themselves asking jurors to bring their lunches because caterers are no longer accepting vouchers.

A meal for a juror usually costs between $40 to $60, but on Wednesday Justice Carla Brown-Antoine advised jurors to walk with their lunch because caterers had stopped accepting State vouchers because of problems with payments.

There are six criminal courts in Port-of-Spain, four in San Fernando and one in Tobago and a panel of either nine or 12 jurors with alternates would sit in a trial which could last between several weeks to several months.

Senior Counsel Israel Khan said the situation was an indictment on the Chief Justice and Opposition MP Dr Suruj Rambachan called for the intervention of Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi “to make this situation right and to prevent at all cost any perception that justice could be compromised.”

Rambachan said he had noted with “concerning dismay” the request of Justice Brown-Antoine to jurors.

He was of the view that “the very basis of justice is being affected by the inability of Government to properly attend to the needs of citizens.”

Rambachan said “one is left to wonder how jurors are going to be affected psychologically and physically in their discharge of duty,” since he said, “the dispensation of justice is also affected by environmental conditions.”

Khan said the development “is an indication that the Judiciary is crumbling.”

Khan feared if the situation is not addressed “the jury will develop subconscious animosity towards the State and it will affect what the State attorney is submitting to them in a trial by jury in relation to the accused.”

This coming on the heels of recent reports that there was no money to buy tickets for judges to go to Tobago to hear matters, he said, is “something that has never happened before.”

Khan said the allegations against the CJ and the current investigation underway into those allegations by the Law Association had affected the psyche of those in the judicial service.

 

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