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CJ Pereira calls for judge-alone trials in region amid COVID-19 era

CJ Pereira calls for judge-alone trials in region amid COVID-19 era

In light of the challenges being faced by the COVID-19 pandemic, Her Ladyship, Hon Dame Janice M. Pereira has suggested judge-alone trials in courtrooms across the Eastern Caribbean.

“The simple truth is that many of our courtrooms are too small and in some cases not enough,” she said on Wednesday, January 13, 2021, during the virtual ceremony marking the opening of the new Law Year.

“In the COVID-19 environment, it is impossible to have jurors sit elbow to elbow. The question then becomes what is the solution to this dilemma? In my view, the time is ripe for all governments in consultation with civil society to engage in discussions for the implementation of judge-alone criminal trials for specific case types within the context and framework of the constitutional mandate of fair trails within a reasonable time.”


Chief Justice, Her Ladyship, Hon Dame Janice M. Pereira, the time is ripe for all governments in consultation with civil society to engage in discussions for the implementation of judge-alone criminal trials for specific case types within the context and framework of the constitutional mandate of fair trails within a reasonable time.

Judge-alone trial can work


To further drive her point home, Chief Justice Pereira said judge-alone trials have proven to be effective.

She explained: “Judge-alone trials are not new in our region, this move has enjoyed much success in reducing the case backlog in the neighbouring state of Trinidad and Tobago as well as in Belize. It is also being practised in the Cayman Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands.”

“I have no doubt that in this COVID-19 climate, in particular, the implementation of judge alone criminal trials would go a long way in reducing the backlog of criminal cases in the Eastern Caribbean with no impact whatsoever on the fairness of such trials,” she pointed out.

While the ceremony was held virtually across all member states, the venue was at the Castries SDA Church in St Lucia.

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