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ADDRESS OF THE HON. CHIEF JUSTICE, SIR ISAAC HYATALI, T.C. - page 9 / 17

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improvement of the machinery of justice, he will have our fullest cooperation and unstinted support.

UNDUE DELAYS

From the figures supplied to me by the Registrar, the number of cases awaiting trial on the civil side in Port-of-Spain, stands at 1617 and in San Fernando at 741; and from those furnished by the Director of Public Prosecutions the number outstanding in the Criminal Lists is 528 in Port-of-Spain, 283 in San Fernando and 10 in Tobago. It is manifest that the present complement of Judges as I have pointed out in the past, cannot make any noteworthy impact on this forbidding backlog of cases. Urgently needed to meet what is manifestly a serious crisis in the machinery of justice is the early implementation of at least two measures: (a) the introduction of county courts and (b) the appointment of three additional judges. I therefore repeat my requests of previous years that immediate steps be taken to introduce these measures and to provide both the staff and the accommodation that will be necessary to service them.

A third measure which I feel constrained to suggest is that the law should be amended to permit a Judge in his discretion, to grant bail to a person in custody awaiting trial for more than 12 months, for an offence which at the moment is not bailable. It is manifestly unjust in my view, to have a prisoner languishing in jail for more than a year without trial because of the congestion in the criminal lists. One recalls in this connection the vivid words of R.H. Smith quoted by Michael Zander in his book “What’s Wrong With The Law” to this effect:

“Nothing rankles more in the human heart than a brooding sense of injustice. Illness, a man can put up with, but injustice makes him want to pull things down.”

In dealing with a situation of this kind however, one must strike a fair balance between the liberty of the citizen and the responsibility of the State which is the trustee of the public interest. I have in fact earnestly endeavoured to do so, and the conclusion which I have reached is that in the circumstances referred to justice and reason require that such

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