Kingstown Magistrate’s Court bringing changes to tackle growing list of matters
by Katherine Renton
The Kingstown Magistrate’s Court will be applying certain changes to the operations of the court in 2021 to increase efficiency.
In tackling the ever-growing list of cases which climbs into the hundreds, the court will be taking a more realistic approach and tackling five matters per day instead of a long list being set.
“The office will work with me, and very soon we’ll get to the five matters per day, as I have asked to be done and I expect when five are listed to be heard, I expect the prosecution to be ready with the five and I expect defense counsel to be ready as well,” Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett told his court staff on Tuesday, March 2.
The civil cases, usually heard on Thursdays, will also be seeing a change, in that on every first and last Thursday of the month, trials will be heard, while other applications will be reserved for the other Thursdays.
Another aspect of changed operations is that the court will not be granting automatic adjournments anymore.
“…As I get older in life and in this job as well, things that did not concern me then, they concern me now. We sit here and our salary is basically guaranteed every month, go to the bank and the salary is there,” the magistrate told SEARCHLIGHT on Tuesday.
But when persons are summoned to come to court, they have to come, but it is not known if they have money for passage.
“…They have to respond and they have to come when the court summons them to come and we send them home and we tell them to come back and they will come back, and it is a cost to them,” Burnett stated.
This is why the court has to be more efficient, he noted.
“We can’t be just summoning persons to come to court knowing fully well that 18, 19 matters on the list, that those matters will not be heard.”
When the five matters per day are set on the list, “…I think we’ll be more efficient in the management of resources,” the judicial officer stated.
He continued that he expects cooperation from all involved, including the lawyers, because many adjournments are caused by them.
Lawyers are an important part of the system, Burnett said, “…but generally they manage their offices, I have to manage a court.” While they are concerned with their client, he has to be concerned with everyone, he said.
There is another party that is affected other than the lawyer and their client when adjournments are granted, he noted.
After 37 years of in service, these are the issues that he is engaging his mind to, “as I get closer to leaving public life”, Burnett said.
As a magistrate one is also a manager, and “you have manage persons, resources, time, and manage a court, and that’s what I’m attempting to do, nothing else than that,” he said.