Mohammed issued the summons after he was kept waiting, only to be told that there were no police officers to bring the accused into the dock.
The situation was not only unique to the Fourth Criminal Court but, throughout all the courts at the Hall of Justice.
A few police officers who preferred to remain anonymous told Newsday that the manpower shortage has been an issue for months, and nothing was being done to solve the problem.
Judges and their clerks waited to begin the morning’s cause list hearings at several courts, but there were no prisoners, only attorneys.
It was later learnt that there was a shortage of police officers to escort prisoners from the vehicles to the courtrooms.
In some of the criminal courts there was only one police officer to three accused, while other courts remained closed.
Some judges were not able to start proceedings until 10 am.
Prosecution attorney Subrina Doughdeen and defence attorney Larry Williams were caught unaware. They waited for some time for accused persons to be brought into the Fourth Criminal Court for the cause list hearing but that did not happen. As a result, the dock remained empty.
Mohammed clearly upset about the situation said, “This is not the first time something like this has happened. This is unacceptable. What sought of message is this sending to the public. When a high court has no police officers it sends a wrong message. I would like the Commissioner of Police to come and explain this.”
Williams agreed saying, “The situation is untenable, my Lord.”
Mohammed then directed that a summons be issued for Police Commissioner Trevor Paul to attend court today at 9 am.
The judge also ordered that the summons be served on Paul personally, and that the normal penalties would apply if the commissioner fails to respond.
Both Williams and Doughdeen were visibly surprised, but kept silent.
It is very rare that a judge calls for the Commissioner of Police to appear in person. When summoned, the commissioner customarily delegates someone to represent him.
However, in this case, according to the document, Paul must attend court himself.
When contacted Paul admitted that “he had received a summons to appear before Justice Mark Mohammed”. However he declined to give details.
The commissioner’s public relations department confirmed the commissioner received a summons from the judge yesterday but, refused to elaborate on the contents of the document.