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Courts still struggling to clear case backlog

Delroy Chuck
 
The authorities continue to fight an uphill battle as they seek to clear the backlog of cases in the courts.
 
Justice Minister Delroy Chuck told the House of Representatives Tuesday afternoon that since the start of the year, significant improvements were made in the clearance of cases in the system.
 
He said the overall clearance rate for the second quarter of 2018 was 98 per cent, which is in line with the international benchmark.
 
However, those improvements did nothing to reduce the backlog. 
 
"For every 100 case put in that quarter, about 90 are being disposed of and those 90 cases are not necessarily cases that started in that quarter. So Mr. Speaker, a persistent case clearance rate of less than 100 per cent will result in a backlog," he reasoned. 
 
Mr. Chuck said Chief Justice Bryan Sykes has now set a target of 130 to 140 per cent case clearance rate aimed at digging into the backlog. 
 
An average of 2,451 new criminal cases are filed across all parishes on a monthly basis with a total of 14,824 new criminal cases entering the parish courts for the first six months of 2018.
 
Tighter system for arrest warrants
 
In the meantime, the Justice Minister has warned law-breaking motorists that the government is tightening the system for issuing arrest warrants for traffic violations.
 
Mr. Chuck noted that 65,195 new matters were listed in the Corporate Area Traffic Court for the period January to June 2018.
 
He said 88 per cent of these resulted in warrants.   
 
But he said many of these warrants have still not been issued because the court is unable to determine whether the traffic tickets were already paid at the tax office. 
 
This has resulted in persons being able to accumulate large numbers of traffic tickets without being sanctioned, Minister Chuck noted.  
 
In addition, he argued that the four entities involved - the courts, Tax Administration Jamaica, Jamaica Constabulary Force and Island Traffic Authority - fall under four different ministries "so greater collaboration is necessary to bridge this gap and streamline the process."


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