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Judge criticises Crown counsels for ‘appalling’ delays in court cases

Puisne Judge Shade Subair Williams (File photograph)

A Supreme Court judge rapped the knuckles of the Department of Public Prosecution yesterday over an “appalling“ lack of disclosure and professional courtesy.

Puisne Judge Shade Subair Williams criticised prosecutors for ignoring court orders after basic summaries of evidence were outstanding by as long as four months.

She added that it was “appalling” that Crown counsel had not requested more time to submit a “Form 1” – or a summary of evidence – closer to their 70-day deadline.

Mrs Justice Subair Williams said: “To not even try and ask for more time when you know your deadline is coming up is very disappointing.

“I do not make court orders because I like to hear myself talk.”

Mrs Justice Subair Williams was speaking during the Supreme Court’s January arraignments session.

The court heard the Crown ask for extensions to complete evidence for five of the 13 cases that came forward.

In one case, Mrs Justice Subair Williams noted that the Crown had been given until October 13 last year to submit evidence that was still outstanding – a deadline that had already been extended from September 5.

In another, defence lawyer Charles Richardson pointed out that the Crown’s Form 1 was 50 days overdue.

He told the court that he could not confidently request bail for his client, who had been remanded in custody and cannot be identified for legal reasons, until he had received all the evidence to be used in the case.

Mr Richardson added that because his client would not stand trial until at least 2024, it was imperative that he argued his client’s right to bail and prepared for the case as quickly as possible – or otherwise it put the defendant’s rights in jeopardy.

Deadlines for other Form 1 pieces of evidence were between September 15 and December 1.

Defence lawyers for another three cases told the court that they were unable to move forward with their defence statements because they had not received outstanding evidence from the Crown.

Carrington Mahoney, for the Crown, gave several reasons why submissions were backed up.

In one case, he explained that the Crown was waiting for outstanding evidence from the US Consulate before they could complete disclosure.

In another, he said that the lead prosecutor had left the Department of Public Prosecutions and the case had gone without Crown counsel for months.

Mrs Justice Williams ordered all outstanding evidence to be completed by March 1, with two of the Crown’s earliest deadlines being the end of day today.

• It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding criminal court cases. This is to prevent any statements being published that may jeopardise the outcome of that case.