Attorney General Dale Marshall today charged Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson with the responsibility to devise a regime to get judges to deliver their judgments more quickly.
Marshall said he was worried that Barbadians were being robbed of justice because of the length of time they were being made to wait for judgments.
Speaking at the end of a tour of temporary criminal court facilities for the High Court at the recently opened police complex in Cane Garden, St Thomas, Marshall cautioned that if the court system did not work in the interest of all Barbadians, anarchy was likely to set in.
He said he would do whatever was necessary to provide judges with the tools needed to efficiently carry out their functions. make their jobs easier and to function more efficiently.
“We are going to have to find a way to match the needs of our society for the quick dispensation of justice . . . and I assure you, Chief [Sir Marston] that I am committed to that and that is why I have been able to get the Prime Minister to give us the three additional judges that we need. That’s probably just the start of the resource deployment so that your bench can function in a way that meets the needs of all of Barbados,” Marshall said.
“I have to say Chief, that I look forward to us being able to find a mutually satisfactorily regime which would see judges delivering decisions in a more timely fashion. I have spoken about this repeatedly at Parliament and I’m still in Parliament . . . and therefore I hold true to my complaints then. Judges have been taking very long to deliver decisions,” the Attorney General stressed, while acknowledging that some issues might arise that cause a delay.
“But we have always obeyed and followed the mantra that justice delayed is justice denied,” he said.
Marshall, the Member of Parliament for St Joseph, recalled that over the years the state had pumped a lot of money into the judiciary, including “brand new un-occupiable” buildings, and now, a way must be found to speed up the wheels of justice.
Marshall, a senior legal counsel and who is in his second stint as Attorney General, having served in the Owen Arthur Government that ran the country from 1994 to 2008, took the opportunity this afternoon to update the island on the remedial work at the Supreme Court, which has been closed for over a month now due to environmental problems.
Flanked by Sir Marston, Registrar of the Supreme Court Barbara Cooke-Alleyne, President of the Barbados Bar Association Liesel Weekes, senior police officers and officials of his ministry, he said the Whitepark facility which had been shedding mold that made people ill, should be ready for reopening by the end of this year.
He said remedial work on that building should begin in the next few weeks because it had to go out to tender.
Marshall noted that the work would not only involve clearing the mold, but restoring systems to prevent a return of the mold.
“That’s a very complex and expensive air conditioning and air quality system that is located on the building. Members of the public would not know that allied to that is the need to make substantial changes to the roof of the building. Those projects, once started, should take no longer than six months,” he said, adding that the Supreme Court was originally projected to reopen in four months.
However, he cited such challenges as the installation of an expensive chiller on the roof, which he said had to be commissioned and specially manufactured and imported, and which would take about four months to get here.
“We anticipate that this project will cost us just over $2 million. The Prime Minister has agreed to make that funding available to us. And believe you me, we are going through it in at very rapid rate. It doesn’t mean we are overspending, but these elements are very expensive to deal with. So I expect that by year-end, we ought to have all of your parts back in Whitepark Road,” he revealed.
Marshall assured the Chief Justice that while the Whitepark Road complex is out of operation, facilities would be put in place for three temporary judges.
He said two criminal courts would go into operation on Monday at the Cane Garden police station, and the civil court – now being refurbished – would move to Manor Lodge, St Michael shortly.