The sitting of the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court, on Monday, lasted a mere 20 minutes because prisoners, for yet another day, were not brought to court on time.
Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett had had enough of the tardiness of prison authorities, who are responsible for transporting prisoners to the court.
“I guess nobody expects court to start at nine. Don’t forget, the later we start, the later we are going to finish,” Burnett observed around 9:15, on receiving information that the prisoners were yet to arrive for their preliminary inquiry.
Prosecutor Police Constable Corlene Samuel rose and told the court that there is “also and issue of transportation at Prisons”.
But Burnett responded, saying that if he were to say that that is no concern of his, it might sound reckless.
He, however, said he had been hearing of that issue of transportation for so long that saying it is not his concern might be a reasonable statement.
Burnett said he comes to court early not only because he wants to start on time but also because he wants to end the day’s session within a reasonable time.
He said that sometimes he gives a little, waiting in his chambers until the police officer, counsel, prisoners, or other accused persons arrive at court for their matters.
“But sometimes, I just want to do what I have to do and go home,” the senior magistrate said.
As the senior magistrate sat quietly, apparently in his thoughts, the prosecutor stood and reminded the court that the High Court was also sitting on that day.
“Yes, the High Court is always sitting—” Burnett said, maybe sarcastically, as the High Court only resumed sitting on Monday for trials, after a break brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Burnett had alerted his court in May that he intended to return to normal operations soon, having taken his own note of how the COVID-19 pandemic was progressing.
On Monday, Burnett continued:
“I pause for a while because I am seriously contemplating adjourning the matters and going home. And next week, maybe they will come early.”
He asked the court orderlies to check to see if the defendant in a listed matter was outside.
Samuel, however, told the court that the prosecution had received information that that particular defendant, who had been granted bail recently, had been injured on the weekend.
About that time, Senior Prosecutor Adolphus Delplesche, who had arrived from the Serious Offences Court located in the same building, entered the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court.
Burnett told Delplesche that he understood that the accused in the preliminary investigation matter, in which Delplesche was representing the Crown, were yet to arrive.
Burnett told the prosecutor that it might be as a result of some transportation issue.
“Transportation issue has been a chronic problem,” Delplesche told the court.
He said that he once suggested that a pushcart be engaged from the market and used to transport prisoners to court.
“I’ve spoken to senior people and nobody seems to be addressing it,” the prosecutor said.
At this point, at 9:20 a.m., the senior magistrate adjourned the preliminary inquiry to next Monday and adjourned the court for the day.