Opposition says the jury system is in deep crisis
The Opposition says the jury system is in deep crisis and is calling on Justice Minister Delroy Chuck to increase the stipend paid to persons on jury duty.
Spokesperson on Justice Donna Scott Mottley says the two thousand dollar per day stipend for jurors, was last increased in 2015 and has eroded significantly , due to inflation.
Prior to that, the stipend was 5 hundred dollars per day and had not been adjusted since 1998.
The issues of insufficient jurors and the impact on trials were highlighted by the Director of Public Prosecutor yesterday (January 9) at the opening ceremony of the Hilary term of the Home Circuit Court.
85 per cent the cases scheduled in the circuit courts are jury trials. There have also been calls for the jury pool to be widened.
Mrs. Scott Mottley adds that coupled with the growing disinterest of citizens in civic activities, the low stipend provided for jurors has put the justice system in a bind.
According to her, numerous jury trials, which account for a vast majority of trials in the circuit court across parishes have been delayed due to a lack of jurors.
She notes that while jury duty is a part of people’s civic responsibility, it is still a voluntary service which requires jurors to make the sacrifice of travelling long distances or even taking time off from work to attend trials.
Senator Scott Mottley is calling on the Justice Minister to act decisively to increase the stipend and not wait on the court administration division to determine whether or not $2000 is sufficient.
Additionally, the Opposition Senator is suggesting that the minister enlists the assistance of Justices of the Peace in a campaign to encourage citizens to understand the importance of jury duty.
She is also encouraging citizens who are able to participate in the process to do so, stating that “the judicial system cannot function without the participation of citizens.