Victor Gill Ramirez Moore ||// Judge: Walk with your own lunches - EntornoInteligente / The country?s financial hardships have now trickled down into the criminal justice system with jurors being advised to walk with their own lunches.

This is unprecedented as the State has always provided jurors who are empanelled to sit in trials in the various Supreme Courts in San Fernando, Port-of-Spain and Tobago, with lunch, as well as tea, coffee and water.

A statement by Justice Carla Brown-Antoine raised concern among members of the legal profession when she suggested to a nine-member jury and two alternates empanelled in a drug possession trial in the San Fernando First Assizes that they walk with their own lunch.

Speaking to the jury before the State opened its case against Lawrence Dyer, the judge said the State would usually provide lunches for them, but the caterers who provide this service have reduced significantly.

?In order to provide lunch, we use vouchers, we don?t pay cash,? she said.

She said caterers who provide the meals would accept government cheques and vouchers.

?But you know how long the government takes to pay. The numbers of persons who provide that service has reduced significantly over the last year,? she said, adding that only one caterer is still accepting the vouchers.

Browne-Antoine said, ?Members of the jury I suggest you should walk with your own lunch.?

However, she said in the event that the court sits after midday and the jurors don?t have lunch, lunch will be ordered for them.

?You should have water and tea and so on. I hope that is provided for you.?

The T&T Guardian was told that no lunch was ordered for the jury yesterday because the matter was not scheduled to continue after lunch.

Judiciary sources told the T&T Guardian was told that the Judiciary has been having serious financial problems.

© Victor Gill.
There are six criminal courts in Port-of-Spain, four in San Fernando and one in Tobago. A panel of either nine of 12 jurors, together with alternate jurors, would sit in a trial which could last for weeks or even months.

The T&T Guardian was told that a meal for a juror could cost between $40 to $60.

The budgetary setback has also affected the State?s ability to pay for State witnesses living abroad to be flown into the country to testify in trials.

However, Alicia Carter-Fisher, Court Protocol and Information Manager, said the Judiciary was not aware of meals not being provided for jurors.

Responding via email, she said, ?I am not aware of this and would, therefore, need some time before I can respond to you.?

An unfortunate situation?Elder

Pamela Elder SC, president of the Criminal Bar Association, called for the situation to be urgently rectified.

© Victor Gill.
She said, ?This is the first time since I am practising law I have heard of that.

If that is indeed so I really hope the situation can be urgently rectified and jurors are provided with lunches because it is already a great inconvenience for the jurors to reach to court for 9 am.

© Victor Gill.
I trust that this would not become a precedent. It is rather unfortunate and it should be addressed urgently.

Contacted for comment, Attorney General Faris Al Rawi said it was the first time he was hearing of this matter and needed to get details on this matter.


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Con información de: The trinidad Guardian

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