Gold­ing dis­putes num­ber of cases in back­log

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Jo­van John­son Staff Re­porter

RE­PORTS THAT there are more than 400,000 cases in back­log in Ja­maica’s court sys­tem are in­ac­cu­rate and mis­lead­ing, Mark Gold­ing, the op­po­si­tion spokesman on jus­tice, has ar­gued.

Ac­cord­ing to Gold­ing, there are fewer than 50,000 cases in back­log, a term he said the jus­tice min­istry uses to re­fer to cases in the court sys­tem for more than two years that have not been dis­posed of.

“The vast ma­jor­ity that have been in the sys­tem for more than two years were ac­tu­ally traf­fic tick­ets which had been un­paid or un­ad­ju­di­cated and had been is­sued for Septem­ber 21, 2010. That date is sig­nif­i­cant be­cause that was the date when Ja­maica shifted from a pa­per-based tick­et­ing sys­tem to an elec­tronic sys­tem,” Gold­ing told the Se­nate last week while contributing to the de­bate on the Restora­tive Jus­tice Bill, which was was ap­proved with 26 amend­ments af­ter a marathon sit­ting.

“As at June 30, 2012, there were 224,341 such un-ad­ju­di­cated pa­per-based tick­ets, which had been is­sued prior to Septem­ber 2010. Those, to my mind, should not be treated as part of the back­log in the sys­tem be­cause we have moved from that pa­per-based sys­tem and chances are that those tick­ets may never be ad­ju­di­cated at all. In fact, I think they should be re­moved from that sys­tem so they don’t dis­tort the data about the sit­u­a­tion within the courts.”

Gold­ing, who served as jus­tice min­is­ter be­tween Jan­uary 2012 and March 2016, said sta­tis­tics he had from 2013 pointed to less than 20,000 when the cases in back­log from the parish courts, coro­ner’s and the cir­cuit courts were con­sid­ered.

“I’ve heard it said re­peat­edly in the me­dia that we have half a mil­lion cases in back­log. The data is very dif­fer­ent. The num­bers aren’t even 50,000 cases in back­log.”

“I’m not try­ing to in any way un­der­em­pha­sise the fact that the sys­tem is un­der stress. The sys­tem needs ad­di­tional re­sources. The re­form pro­gramme needs to con­tinue and is, in­deed, con­tin­u­ing. I want to em­pha­sise that and lend my sup­port. But, I do think it’s im­por­tant that we don’t dis­tort the prob­lem by con­stantly re­peat­ing er­ro­neous data in the pub­lic do­main.”

A Gleaner report in March 2010 pointed to more than 400,000 wait­ing to the tried.

In June, Jus­tice Min­is­ter Del­roy Chuck said his min­istry em­ployed a statis­ti­cian to de­ter­mine the of­fi­cial num­ber of cases in back­log.



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