The complaints from Judges and Lawyers about the conditions of the law courts in Grenada is to be addressed as government has decided to take possession of the LIME building on the Carenage to house three courts.
This was announced by Attorney General, Cajeton Hood during a recent post-Cabinet press briefing held at the Ministerial Complex in the Botanical Gardens in Tanteen, St. George’s.
The previous National Democratic Congress (NDC) government of Prime Minister Tillman Thomas had expressed interest in purchasing the building from LIME and had agreed on a price but the deal fell through.
Congress wanted to use the building to facilitate the Ministry of Legal Affairs and to store the rectors of the Supreme Court Registry.
In speaking to reporters, AG Hood noted that over the years, there has been a lot of talk about accommodation for the law courts in light of several complaints from those involved in the legal profession.
He said that a lot of work is being done on the LIME Building right now to provide for sittings of the court.
According to Hood, a criminal court and two civil courts will hold sittings within the building, as well as the Law Library, Master’s Chambers and the Negotiations Process.
He said the intention is to have a one-stop area where Lawyers and Litigants can be more comfortable.
Several of Grenada’s courts had to be relocated after the passage of Hurricane Ivan, which devastated York House which accommodated the island’s Parliament and the Number 1 High Court on the island.
High Court No.1 has been relocated to where High Court No.2 used to be prior to Ivan.
High Court No.2 is now located in a building on Lucas Street, while the newly created High Court Number three is currently being housed at the St. George’s Club building on the Carenage that is owned by Jonas Browne & Hubbard (G’da) Ltd.
Hood said the building is in a deplorable condition and the Management is now asking to get it back to carry out renovations.
“Right now Hubbard’s want their building, they want to fix the building and I had a meeting with the Manager who asked me to sign an agreement that if anything happens to anybody in that building, they’re not liable,” he remarked.
The government Chief Legal Advisor stated that the building that is accommodating Court No. 2 is also falling apart and in need of repairs.
“I know there have been issues with a number of cases that have been there for years that have not been tried. I have had discussions with the Chief Justice about a 4th judge and preparations are in place as a fourth judge will be starting about July of this year”, he said.
“The specific intention is to make sure that the backlog of cases will be dealt with, so that’s a further financial commitment,” he added.
Hood made specific mention of a court matter in which he had appeared as a defense attorney and his client was found guilty of a crime and for four years now his appeal cannot be heard.
This, he said is due to a problem with the recording system that is presently being used in the courts.
“The government has made a positive move to procure lifetime recording systems for the court. I’ve been in negotiations for the last few months with the President of the Bar Association to get the same equipment as used in the CCJ to be used up in our courts.
Hood said the system contemplated will be able to give court transcripts almost immediately and “the problem now with appeals is that no transcript can be produced because we have an outdated system and the government has committed itself to getting these equipment to give you lifetime recording.”