Modifications To Safely Accommodate Jury Trials

August 20, 2020 | 0 Comments

“We have been able to come to a resolution which will lead to necessary modifications so that the Sessions House court room can safely accommodate jury trials in the near future,” the Registrar for the Courts said.

Registrar for the Courts of Bermuda Alexandra Wheatley said, ”Justice Charles-Etta Simmons referred to our inability to hold Supreme Court criminal trials because none of the court rooms are COVID-19 compliant to safely accommodate a judge, jury and other witnesses in a criminal trial. These circumstances could not have been predicted and are being experienced throughout the Judiciary worldwide.

”Whilst the Judiciary has implemented numerous measures to ensure the people of Bermuda’s access to justice such as, audio/visual hearings, administrative hearings, etc., the scope for changing the way criminal jury trials are held is limited.

“Proposals were put forward for the reduction of jury members as well as for the option for the Defendant to elect having the case heard by a Judge alone in order to assist with the relisting of criminal trials which would have assisted the accommodation challenges. However, these changes involve amendments to legislation and have not been approved.

”However, I am pleased to confirm that, after closely working with the Ministry of Public Works for a number of months in order to remedy these unforeseen circumstances, we have been able to come to a resolution which will lead to necessary modifications so that the Sessions House court room can safely accommodate jury trials in the near future.

“I am most grateful for the assistance of the Hon. Minister of Public Works as well as the Acting Permanent Secretary of Public Works, Kirk Outerbridge, for assisting the Judiciary in resolving this most challenging situation.”

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