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Tuesday 17 July 2018
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Public vex cases not adjourned due to Bret

INCONSIDERATE, was how a handful of people described having to wait for hours at the Port of Spain Magistrates’ Court yesterday before their matters could be called, only to have them adjourned in mere minutes. They said a decision should have been taken on Monday, prior to the passage of Tropical Storm Bret, to have matters set for yesterday heard today as many found it difficult to get transportation to come into Port of Spain.

In a statement on Monday, Court Protocol and Information Manager Alicia Carter- Fisher said matters scheduled for hearing yesterday would proceed as listed from 10 am, unless attorneys or parties had been otherwise notified. Other services of the court were also opened from 10 am instead of the usual 9 am, because of the tropical storm warning that was in effect.

However, it was not business as usual at the Port of Spain Magistrates’ Court. There were only three note-takers present who had to be juggled between four magistrates.

No remanded prisoners were brought to court but there was the full complement of police, all of whom had been called out for active duty when the storm warning went into effect.

Only a few charge cases (prisoners who were charged over the weekend) were brought to court yesterday and several police who charged people were said to be out on the field as a result of the passage of Bret. There were no clerks up until midday.

The situation was similar at other magistrates’ courts and also at the Port of Spain High Court, where a number of court staff did not turn up for work.

“They could have just put all the Tuesday cases to Wednesday, instead of putting people through this pressure. It was really inconsiderate.

Port of Spain is a ghost town. Taxis drivers not working, even the bus not working and they have people coming here for their matter to get adjourned as usual.

Why come on a day like today for something that they always doing,” asked a member of the public.

In a subsequent statement yesterday, Carter- Fisher indicated all magistrates’ courts were closed at noon yesterday, “owing to difficulties being experienced in the aftermath of the tropical storm.” Carter- Fisher noted that all counter and other services of the High Court continued to be accessible to the public until the close of business and the public was advised to only access the services of the Supreme Court if there were urgent documents for filing and other business that cannot be done today when the High Court will be fully operational.

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