Trial by a judge sitting alone

Delivering the feature address at the TT Chamber’s first quarterly luncheon, Archie said legislators were taking steps to ensure that trials are not thwarted by criminals.

“The Executive is responding. I am advised that legislation is soon to be introduced that would permit trial by judge sitting alone where there is credible evidence of previous, or attempted, or likely jury tampering,” Archie said, at the Leon Agonstini Conference Facility at the Chamber’s Westmoorings office.

He viewed this as a welcome tool for the Judiciary, after acts of intimidation aimed at attacking those who are key to the administration of justice.

Interviewed briefly afterwards, Archie said judicial officers are convinced that there has been interference with jurors.

“Yes, we have reason to believe there may be jury tampering in some cases,” he told reporters.

His statement comes, coincidently, less than one week after comments by High Court Justice Herbert Volney who had strong words for the jury after two murder accused had walked free.

Archie said there were persons bent on perverting the course of justice, through intimidation and other tactics.

“There are those in our society who seek to subvert the administration of justice by fear, and intimidation of witnesses, jurors, and judicial officers,” he said.

He added, “We have been subjected to threats and, on occasion, attacks including firebombing. I am concerned that operational decisions about judicial security must be based on realistic assessments by those qualified to do so.”

Archie, entering into his second term as Chief Justice, said the little resources in the Judiciary left persons susceptible to attacks.

“The reality though is that in a country as small as ours, and with finite resources it is almost impossible to ensure anonymity, or to maintain tight security around large numbers of people. Increasingly, this vulnerability is being successfully exploited.”

He however assured the business community that the Judiciary will remain unfettered when discharging their duties.

“In the meantime, we continue to be undaunted in our determination to dispense justice firmly and fairly.”

He reminded the attendees that while there was uncertainty in the business community, amid the rising crime in the nation, the Judiciary was seeking to maintain certainty in the justice system.

“No person or organisation in the private sector will be willing to put capital into a system where the Judiciary cannot be expected to provide a credible remedy when rights are infringed. If the laws of the country are disregarded, or flouted with impunity especially by those in authority, it creates a state of uncertainty,” he added.


"Trial by a judge sitting alone"

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