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Chief Justice criticism prompts AG response

Attorney-General Trevor Moniz has hit back at criticism of the Bermuda Government’s efforts to reform and modernise the judicial system.

He told The Royal Gazette that the One Bermuda Alliance had reformed “the whole criminal justice system” during its tenure and done extensive work to make judicial processes and procedures more efficient.

Mr Moniz’s comments came after Chief Justice Ian Kawaley warned that the island’s judicial infrastructure would remain in “constant crisis management” mode unless the Government was prepared to support its modernisation. Mr Justice Kawaley also said that Bermuda had fallen behind other jurisdictions with similar economies because their administrations had placed a higher value on their courts.

“People quickly forget the financial shambles we inherited from the Progressive Labour Party,” Mr Moniz said. “We are still in a difficult situation but we have got the economy kicking and we can say there has been an OBA economic miracle since 2012.

“People like the Chief Justice should recognise the huge challenges we faced and that we are achieving great progress.

“Most of the problems he has identified I would agree with, but we have different ideas about how to fix them. I am trying my level best to help resolve these situations as they arise against the backdrop of the Sage report and other financial limitations.”

Mr Moniz said he was “fully supportive” of the Chief Justice’s proposal to create a cross-departmental committee with representative from the judiciary and various ministries to look at how the judiciary operates and what it needs.

He added: “In the last two years the amount of legislation we have put through has been massive. We have reformed the whole criminal justice system despite opposition from the Bar Council and others.

“We got rid of preliminary hearings for magistrates that is saving thousands of hours. We have tried to clear the decks despite resistance to this reform, but we are getting it done. The Bribery Bill went through the House recently and new fraud law will be placed before the House in the next session.”

Mr Moniz told The Royal Gazette that a major opportunity of bringing the infrastructure of the judiciary together under one roof was missed after the opening of the Dame Lois Browne-Evans building.

“The opportunity of bringing the judicial structure together was missed under the PLP when they created the new building,” he said.

“Instead a lot of people and different departments were moved in there that had nothing to do with the courts. It made no sense and it was not an OBA decision.

“Additionally, that meant that the existing courts remained fragmented across Hamilton in three different locations making it administratively inefficient.

“It would be very difficult now, and expensive, to change that, and people would be extremely reluctant to leave areas they have been in for several years.

“The time to do that was when the building was open and it would have made a substantial difference to the efficiency of the judiciary.”