One day after President of the Grenada Bar Association Ruggles Ferguson issued a public statement calling for immediate action to address the deplorable condition of the #2 Supreme Court; Attorney General Cajeton Hood said work is ongoing to address those issues.
In an exclusive interview with members of the Moving Target Company (Informer and MTV) on Tuesday Hood said although he was not privy to the comments made by the president of the Grenada Bar, he is aware of the situation since according to him, the issues surrounding the court has been around for well over ten years.
Hood said the building housing Court #2 is owned by the Anglican Church, and over the years he said lawyers, judges and court staff have expressed their concerns, but although some work was done with respect to accommodating the jurists, there remains some level of discomfort. Because of this he said, shortly after he assumed the position of Attorney General, Cabinet took the decision to acquire the old LIME building on the Caranage through a lease arrangement to have all the courts operate from that single location.
Hood said although the Civil Court #3 is presently up and running in that building, the other areas are taking a little longer than first anticipated. With final work taking place on the area assigned for Court # 2 he said that court should be up and ready in the next two weeks and this he said is not news, since according to him, all parties are aware of the situation.
Relating to the backlog in the system Hood said this has been around for well over a decade, and is affecting both the criminal and the civil court. One fundamental component of that problem the AG said is the court recording system, which he referred to as an antiquated recording system that needs to be upgraded.
Hood said the Government is moving to address that outdated cassette recording system; the Caribbean Court of Justice has been contacted, costing has been obtained and the Ministry of Finance is in the process of finalizing plan to purchase a new recording system that would be installed in the LIME building once the court is up and running. This they hope would address some of the backlog in the system.
Additionally Hood said the Caribbean Court of Justice was contacted regarding having a fourth judge placed in Grenada to help deal with the problem, in-fact he hinted that the CCJ has assured Grenada that two additional judges would be placed in Grenada on a temporary basis from March to deal with most of the backlog in the system.
The AG said it is not that nothing is being done, something is actively being done he said however there are some setbacks which they hope to address in due course.
Although the work is not moving at a pace that they favor Hood said when completed, the LIME building will house four courts, including the court library the mediation room and the masters’ court.
As it stands, with a cause list of 132 criminal cases down for trial in the January Assizes, which began last week, the Attorney General says Court #2 will not sit until the new location at the LIME building on the Carenage is ready in the next two weeks.
The AG said it is not that Government is sitting down on the matter, there is simply nothing much that can be done at this stage, it has been a long-standing problem.