Trinidadian Justice to preside at the second criminal High Court
Trinidadian Justice Angelica Teelucksingh(Ag), has been appointed to preside at the second criminal High Court that is promised to start operations this month with an aim to reducing the backlog of cases.
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, speaking on WE FM last Friday, indicated that the Roads, Buildings and General Services (BRAGSA) were “fixing up” a space at the Marcole Plaza for the second criminal High Court. He informed that arrangements had been made for housing for the judge in Cane Garden.
The Prime Minister noted that it would cost more money, but expressed that he wanted to see the trials move quicker. He cautioned that lawyers would now have to be careful in asking for too many adjournments which would slow down the process.
Gonsalves reiterated that the constitution says that an accused person must be afforded a fair trial in a reasonable time, and he takes these things seriously.
He added, “And as a result in the budget we having more persons in the National Prosecution Service for the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.”
He did not identify the Judge at that point.
However, yesterday, January 13, Teelucksingh joined fellow High Court Justices Brian Cottle, Nicola Byer and Esco Henry at an Ecumenical service to mark the beginning of the 2020 Law Term, which was held at the Cathedral of the Assumption.
Following this, she, as well as appointed Master Tamara Gill(Ag), and senior and junior members of the legal fraternity, joined all ranks of the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force(RSVGPF), in a march to the Court House.
Teelucksingh then inspected the guard of honour, in the company of the Commissioner of Police (COP) Colin John.
At the subsequent special sitting of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) the Chief Justice Dame Janice Pereira delivered her address to the member states, which was broadcasted from a courtroom in Antigua and Barbuda.
After the Chief Justice’s address, the Attorney General (AG) Jaundy Martin, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Sejilla McDowall, the President of the Bar Association, René Baptiste CMG, Queen’s Counsel Stanley John from the inner bar, and counsel Roderick Jones from the outter bar all addressed the court.
They welcomed Teelucksingh to the jurisdiction. The AG confirmed, “Justice Teelucksingh will preside over a new criminal court which will assist us significantly in reducing the existing backlog of criminal cases, and the delays for both victims and accused that we have been experiencing.”
The DPP noted she was “delighted” at the Justice’s presence, and Jones said that he was “absolutely pleased” that the bottleneck built up over the years would be reduced.
While the announcement had already been made by Justice Cottle in December 2019, that a second criminal court would be running simultaneously to the first, the identity of the second judge was not known.
Justice Cottle, who presides over the criminal High Court, had simply indicated on December 13 that “we propose to be running a second criminal court in the same time as the first one, in an effort to clear up the backlog of matters.”
He explained that this was, “so that citizens who are charged will be able to have their matters heard far more promptly.”
However, the move to ask for the appointment of a second Judge was being considered for some time, Justice Cottle noting in August, 2019, that he and the DPP were aware of the long list of pending cases. At the time he was responding to comments from lawyer Jomo Thomas who stated that it was of vital importance that a second criminal judge be appointed to deal with matters.