Bridgetown- September 27th, 2021- The Canadian Government funded Improved Access to Justice in the Caribbean (IMPACT Justice) Project hosted a lecture on the topic Trial by Jury or Judge Alone: The Commonwealth Caribbean Position on September 27th, 2021.
His Lordship, the Honourable C. Dennis Morrison, OJ, CD, QC, President of the Court of Appeal of the Turks and Caicos Islands and Former President of the Jamaica Court of Appeal gave the lecture and Mr. Julian Rogers, MBE, Managing Director of the Jamaica Observer served as moderator.
In his presentation, Justice Morrison traced the development of jury trial for serious criminal offences, the systems perceived shortcomings, and the growth and increased reliance in many jurisdictions on judge alone trial.
The learned judge also considered some of the arguments in favour of judge alone trials which he noted include, inter alia, that judges sitting alone are less likely to be improperly influenced by material they access that is pertinent to the trial or the accused; a judge sitting alone is easier to protect from threats or intimidation than a jury; and because judges are obliged to give reasoned judgments, they more readily satisfy society’s increasing emphasis on transparency.
The lecture also featured a question and answer segment in which viewers were permitted to seek clarification on the points raised in the lecture and provide their own experiences with either regime. Judicial Officers, Attorneys General, Attorneys-at-Law, Public Prosecutors; the staff and students of the Counsel of Legal Education’s Law Schools and others were invited to tune in to view the proceedings, which were streamed live on UWI TV from 3:00pm to 5:00pm.
Professor Velma Newton, CBE, SCM, delivered the event’s opening address and thanked Justice Morrison for agreeing to deliver the lecture which was featured the findings of a report he prepared for the Project in July.