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Mussenden’s pledge to modernise trials

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Making changes: new Director of Public Prosecutions Larry Mussenden (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Newly appointed Director of Public Prosecutions Larry Mussenden has pledged to help modernise the way the department prepares and conducts trials.

Mr Mussenden set out plans to introduce new case-management software with the department and expressed hopes that vulnerable and expert witnesses would be able to give evidence via video link to increase trial efficiency.

He also told The Royal Gazette that he would support bringing in stenographers to Supreme Court trials to make transcripts of proceedings more readily available and reduce delays in appeal cases.

“I would like to modernise the way we do things and take advantage of modern technology,” said Mr Mussenden. “Using video links for vulnerable witnesses, including seniors and children, as well as experts, would be a nice step.

“A lot of trials revolve around experts and sometimes it comes down to one or two questions. If you can take this evidence by video link, along with the evidence of vulnerable witnesses, it would make sense.”

Mr Mussenden added: “We don’t have a case-management software system. Most lawyers in Bermuda have this. I am keen to bring in a new software system to improve efficiency and move away from the paper-based so that we can access files and information remotely.

“This would also allow us to keep track on precedents and the history of cases that could be accessed on tablets in court. But we have to abide by a number of IT protocols before this becomes a reality.”

The new director also suggested that jurors could be given tablets during Supreme Court trials that provided images and information about crime exhibits in the case, which would be remotely accessible.

Mr Mussenden gave his full backing to the jury process in Bermuda and said he would be happy to see more Supreme Court trials take place in the “more modern environment” of the new courts of the Dame Lois Browne-Evans building.

“I have always enjoyed pulling a case apart and will continue to do that,” he said. “A few of my previous clients were happy that I took the post, but were equally disappointed that I could not be their lawyer any more.”

Mr Mussenden served as a Crown counsel between 1996 and 2001 before embarking on a career into private practice, during which time he also held the post of Attorney-General between 2003 and 2006.

Since taking the director’s position on April 13 he has tried to meet with all the 25 lawyers and staff in his department. “I believe Bermuda has a team to be proud of,” he said.

He said he would continue to combine his duties in the football arena with his legal commitments, and looked forward to personally going out into the schools, churches and youth groups to steer young people away from crime.

“Over the last 20 years I have always combined football and the law and I plan to do the same moving forward,” said Mr Mussenden.

“However, I have had to step down from my role as chairman of the Olympics football appeals committee. I would have been in Rio this summer and when I think about it, tears roll down from my eyes.”

Embracing technology: Larry Mussenden, the new Director of Public Prosecutions, is keen to modernise (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Help for vulnerable: Larry Mussenden says he supports using video links for vulnerable witnesses such as children (Photograph by Akil Simmons)