Chancellor wants more judges to reduce case backlogs
Guyana Chronicle
October 31, 2003

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CHANCELLOR of the Judiciary, Ms. Desiree Bernard, has once again indicated that the functioning of the judicial system has suffered severely from inadequate staff at almost every level.

According to Chancellor Bernard, one of the most affected areas is the backlog of cases awaiting trial. She, however, noted that every effort is being made to reduce this.

"We are terribly short of judges, which has led to a decrease in the ability to reduce the backlog of cases," the Chancellor said in a recent interview with the Government Information Agency (GINA).

"I think we are hanging on by our fingertips and I need to keep the system together and that is both at the magisterial and judicial levels because we desperately need vacancies filled so that we can have judges at hand to undertake the work," she said.

The absence of the Judicial Service Commission is also a major contributing factor to the deteriorated staffing situation, as new appointments, promotions and discipline cannot be addressed.

The Judicial Service Commissions' establishment is dependent on the establishment of the Public Service Commission, as Chairperson of the latter sits on the Judicial Service Commission as well.

"Over the years we have had a few resignations and retirement and we have not been able to fill those vacancies. So it means that we have fewer judges, whereas our component in the High Court should be 10 plus the Chief Justice, it is now down to the Magistracy we should have 22, we only have about 14 or 15 magistrates. At the Court of Appeal we should have at least five plus the Chancellor, we only have three plus the Chancellor," she said, adding that these quotas are inadequate "to really make an impact".

The Chancellor also noted that while there is no immediate strategic solution to the situation, the members of the judiciary have to concentrate on making the most of the limited resources.

"We try our best just to keep things going but there is only so much that we can do," Chancellor Bernard said.

She said, too, that often the public does not appreciate nor even realize the trying circumstances under which the judiciary functions. (GINA)