The Editor Speaks: Sorry, time up!
No, this isn’t the publican shouting out in his Pub that there can be no more drinks served.
This is far more serious. We are dealing here with court cases that fail to get prosecuted, and if they do, are thrown out because they are out of time. Time is up!
Last Monday (14) a man who was charged with carrying contraband into Northward Prison had the charge against him dismissed. The reason – ‘out of time’. The charge was brought after the six-month time limit.
Why the Legal Department went ahead with the prosecution is baffling. The Magistrate, Kirsty-Ann Gunn, noticed it but the prosecution didn’t.
This problem of “time is up” is a continuing one. I have noticed press articles going back to 2010 headlining this very thing. I even wrote one on October 28th 2014 under the title “50 Pending Cayman Islands court cases stopped or stayed” at: http://www.ieyenews.com/wordpress/50-pending-cayman-islands-court-cases-stopped-or-stayed/
The Cayman Compass published an article under the title “Reasons absent for some cases” that stated:
“The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has issued a list revealing the nature of crimes involved in over four dozen Summary Court/criminal procedure code cases that were not prosecuted as a result of the statute of limitations expiring, as well as the reasons the cases did not make it to court on time. The list represents the time period between August 2005 and August 2010.
“The statute of limitations is a legal guideline for Summary Court/criminal procedure cases that requires cases be brought to courts within six months from the time authorities become aware of the alleged offence. Typically, the Legal Department – via the Solicitor General’s Office – is responsible for all criminal procedure code cases, while the police prosecute traffic offences.”
The Compass published an article from Stuart Wilson in October 2010 headlined “Dozens of crimes not prosecuted”. The dozens was said to be nearly FOUR DOZEN!
In the article a statement from the RCIPS said, “There are many reasons why an officer may be unable to complete the case within the permitted time, for example, being unable to trace witnesses who have left the jurisdiction.”
A similar story was also carried by Cayman News Service titled “Legal cries foul over FOI”.
For most of the time, the Solicitor General has kept quiet – in fact one might describe it as a ‘deafening silence’ but not this time. Cheryll Richards released a critical statement accusing The Compass article of misrepresentation.
“We are understandably quite puzzled as to why the unfortunate misrepresentation of the Legal Department and the prosecution system persist in the article,” she said.
Local lawyer, Peter Polack is quoted as saying, “It is a particular brand of incompetence that would see the prosecution of 45 offences irreversibly jeopardized by mere effluxion of time. One can only hope that the person charged with overseeing this bureaucratic debacle would resign and give some relief to the people of the Cayman Islands. Perhaps what is of greater concern is the deafening silence in the legislature on the matter of oversight and audit of the Legal Department.”
He, however, admitted “North Side MLA Ezzard Miller has supported an audit of the Legal Department in the past.”
My article brought not a single comment.
I conclude that something is very wrong that out of time articles written in 2010 that include cases from 2006 show little has changed in 2018.
Maybe this Editorial might spark a response because, quite frankly, something must be done. Your time for pondering is most definitely up.