Work to create second Covid-safe courtroom
Work to create a second Covid-safe courtroom is expected to be completed by the end of next month, according to the Ministry of Public Works.
A spokesman for the Ministry said that Magistrates’ Court 4 – which had been used to hold Supreme Court hearings and trials before the pandemic – will be ready to hold trials again by the end of June.
The spokesman said: “The administration of justice is a critical aspect of ensuring continuity in Bermuda.
“It is even more important that participants are safeguarded against the spread of Covid-19. To that end, plexiglass partitions are being installed in Court 4.
“The Ministry can advise that the materials are now being fabricated. Once fabrication is complete, the plexiglass will be installed with no further alterations needed to the court.”
Jury trials in Magistrates’ Court 4 were halted last March in an effort to slow the spread of Covid-19.
Hearings were still held – in person and through online video service Zoom – but it was determined that jury trials could not safely be held in the courtroom based on Covid-19 restrictions.
The Ministry of Public Works last year refitted Supreme Court 1 in Session’s House to allow the return of jury trials with partitions installed to shield jurors, staff and lawyers.
Jury trials were able to resume in that courtroom late last year, but were again halted early this year in response to a surge of Covid-19 cases.
Pusine Judge Charles-Etta Simmons said last week that work had begun to refit Magistrates’ Court 4 to help the courts address the growing backlog of criminal cases.
Concerns had been raised that prolonged delays caused by the lack of courtrooms could potentially amount to a breach of the defendant’s constitutional right to a fair trial within a reasonable time.