Dominica’s Magistrate Court is failing in productivity and output says High Court Judge, Justice Williams

His Lordship, Justice Colin Williams, the new resident Judge in Dominica, minced no words in his critical evaluation of Dominica’s Magistracy unequivocally criticizing what he considers the lack of productivity and output, resulting in unsatisfactory levels of performance. He highlighted a need for improvement, noting that some individuals responsible for their duties are not meeting expectations.

“The Magistrates have not been producing at a satisfactory level and those who supposed to be doing their work are not working,” he declared.

His comments were made at the recent conclusion of the September session of the High Court, coinciding with Assistant Superintendent Handel Joseph’s report on Prison Delivery. Joseph revealed that among the 261 inmates currently held at the Dominica State Prison, a staggering 131 constitute the remand population. To address this pressing issue, he advocated for a more expeditious handling of Court proceedings.

In response, Justice Williams emphatically asserted that the primary responsibility for the delay squarely rests on the sluggishness within the Magistrate’s Court, questioning the reluctance by members of the judiciary to address these glaring problems.

“…but when are afraid to tell those who are responsible that they are not doing what they are supposed to do, when we try to shield people, this is the problem,” he asserted. “We know where the problem is but nobody wants to say because people fraid to say to their friends you playing the fool man.”

He raised serious concerns about the lack of punctuality in the Court proceedings highlighting the “unacceptable” scenarios where the members of the public are forced to stand outside long past the Court start time, awaiting its opening.

“You cannot have the Magistrate Court which is supposed to start at 9:00 a.m., and 10 o’ clock in the morning you still on the road somewhere and people standing outside waiting for the Court to open and leave at whatever time you want.”

The breakdown of crimes leading to the high remand populations was also revealed, with murder and burglary cases dominating the remand statistics. Astonished, Justice Williams expressed profound disbelief, over the unprecedented occurrence in his career.

“This is the first time in my career that an assizes closed without a single matter to be done. However over 100 people are on remand were left on remand. There is no justification on the face of this earth why this should be happening in Dominica today. But unless we can call out those who are supposed to do their job and they are not doing it then we will not find a solution.”

Reflecting on his experiences elsewhere, he drew a sharp contrast:

“I went to Belize in 2018 to deal with backlog of matters and cases five and six years old were deemed to be part of the backlog…but 2023 in Dominica active matters and new matters are from 2013, are you for real,” he stated displeased. “How can a Preliminary Inquiry take seven years before it is completed at the Magistrate Court but we like it so, because we not telling the Magistrates that they are not doing what they are supposed to do.”

He also fervently addressed the concerning issue of mentally ill individuals in state prisons, highlighting the inappropriateness of housing sick individuals in such facilities.

“There is no reason why 40-something people who are mentally challenged are supposed to be at the state prison, sick people don’t belong in a prison but we sit down and say that is the way it is. If we want change, we have to say it is wrong and we have to change it.”

He further questioned why these issues persist without challenge from members of the judiciary.

“The lawyers seem to like it so because it appears that clients must be paying refresher fees. The only way that a lawyer will not have an issue with what is going on is because they are making money off of it,” he averred. “We have to speak truth to power and that is the only way we will get answers and results. Tell the Magistrates that they cannot continue in such a manner.”

Raising another critical issue, he highlighted the alarming trend of individuals receiving bail for murder in Dominica.

“Individuals accused of one or two murders are out on bail because there’s no prospect of expediting the Preliminary Inquiry.”

Proposing solutions, he suggested consolidating indictable matters before a single Magistrate Court to streamline the process. Additionally, he advocated for the more frequent use of the paper committal process to expedite legal proceedings. Legal practitioners, including Wayne Norde and Attorney Peter Alleyne, echoed concerns about the flawed Court processes. The Director of the Legal Aid Clinic, Alleyne voiced significant concerns regarding the remanding of inmates via Zoom, highlighting a departure from the previous practice of bringing them physically to Court. He emphasized the importance of physical presence in court, underscoring the support and assistance attorneys could provide in the legal proceedings.

“If the court followed the previous procedure, there would be attorneys present who could assist both the court and the prisoners. Currently, remands are conducted remotely by the Magistrate’s Court every week, and in my view, this is unjust to the prisoners.”

Norde on the other hand acknowledged the prevailing issues within the Magistrate’s Court but highlighted that the problems extend beyond the court system itself.

“One of the major problems is that, there is no separation of power, it is evaporating in Dominica,” he contends.

The defense attorney further expressed his backing for advocating judicial reform, indicating the necessity for substantial changes within the judicial framework to address the broader systemic issues affecting the country’s legal system. However, Justice Williams noted the absence of members of Dominica’s judiciary at regional training and forums, raising concerns about its commitment to evolving and improving the justice system.

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26 Comments

  1. Confused
    December 5, 2023

    Dominica is rotten to tne bone and every judge sees the corruption and a justice system which is run by a corrupt government. Its time for this government to free up Dominica once again. Most of the murderers charge are all on bail but a man charged with a simple theft is on remand for yrs.

  2. Confused
    December 5, 2023

    Nothing will change with the system because soon they remove him from Dominica. The problem is the rogue government who must go to make this change in the country

  3. Popo
    December 5, 2023

    It’s time to call for a general election.

  4. DAFriend
    December 5, 2023

    Wow, no comment from the usual Labour spin doctors? I guess they must have run out of breath since this statement must have felt like a severe kick between the legs. This one judge has more civil courage than the natives. Shame on you Dominica!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0
  5. Lin clown
    December 4, 2023

    South City,you are a damn LIAR.Lying to the Dominican people.On Setember 1st 2021 the government of Dominica raised the minimum wage to $7.50 per hour.$60.00 an 8 hour day.$1280.00 for a 160 hour month.$12,00 per hour overtime minimum.Yes things are expensive because of greedy Dominicans like you who want to remove the eyes of Dominicans.I have met a number of greedy Dominicans shopping in New York.They buy things for next to nothing,example at Cee cees in a blue jeans is between $12.00US and $15.00US,in Dominica the same jeans is $150.00.A 42 inch smart screen LG television is between $900.00 and $1,000US in Dominica the same tv is between $5,000 and $6,000 and that have nothing to do with customs.So you,out of the south city is greedy all you greedy and wicked all you wicked to talk about increase.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 0 Thumb down 9
    • out of south city
      December 6, 2023

      You need to go back to Elementary school.

  6. Putin
    December 4, 2023

    Wow! Great stuff. Thank you Justice Williams. Someone has to have the cajones to call it as it is and speak out.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2
  7. FOR LOVE OF COUNTRY
    December 4, 2023

    What do you expect from a renegade or rogue nation! Government institutions rarely fight (forbidden to) their political battles in the open. There’s more to come…. everything MUST come out into the open.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1
  8. Lawyer
    December 3, 2023

    Justice Williams will get fed up of this mediocrity and go about his business…reprimand all you want sir, sadly nothing changes.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1
  9. Joe Telford Baines
    December 3, 2023

    Twas time. Great observation Justice Williams. Justice delayed is justice denied. I kept wondering to myself that by the time its 1:30pm. All thess Courst are done and closed. Theyve got to have back logs. I followed up on the May Criminal assizes and to my surprise there was not a single matter ready for trial from the Crimina Investigations Department (CID). I was amazed. My learn head colleague hinted to me (Has the crime rate in Dca cease?) No one matter from the CID rrady for trial at the High Court. They all are busy battlimg for senior positions. Well Justice Williams u articulated on point ” It sweet, we like it so”

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0
  10. Rasta Pasta
    December 3, 2023

    God speed Justice Williams, but tread cautiously. Swimming against the RED tide here has consequences.
    Identifying errors in the status quo without power to enact change will only get you stigmatized and labeled as an antagonist, making our Starboy of Stupidity find ways to either replace you or buy and shut you up as he does his adversaries like the unscrupulous embarrassment now occupying the speaker of the house of assembly’s chair.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 1
  11. dissident
    December 3, 2023

    Justice Williams…..you the Man!
    You the boss!
    You say it like it is and should be said with full authority……and perhaps de most authoritative voice on de issue. Our attorney general is a political tool.
    What about de DPP?
    Did you just throw our bar association under de bus?
    Good for dem too…greedy lawyers making money on court appearances
    you said it right and loud and bold enough……no separation of powers!!!
    Look at de effectiveness of de gun amnesty!!!!
    This is a sign people!
    It real!
    This country has found itself in a bind, a grip by some backward, evil, negative, non-productive, ugly, nasty, shameless band of vagabonds.
    Our leaders sacrificed nation building for mansion building …expensive clothes and gleh gleh, expensive dinners and photo ops with millionaires!!!
    People with a mind like yours would be a beacon …you sound like you possess de maturity and clarity of vision for nation building. A President

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0
  12. Ibo France
    December 3, 2023

    It has taken a stranger(the judge) who has no political axe to grind, to give a true and compelling evaluation of the day to day governing of Dominica.

    How can a country progress with public servants ( mostly political appointees)in critical offices are not penalised for their daily tardiness and frequent absenteeism? How can this country make strides where mentally ill citizens who should be cared for in a psychiatric hospital, are thrown in jail for an inordinate amount of time?

    The men of cloth, the lawyers, business sector, doctors and nurses, in fact, the whole of civil society, should hang their heads in eternal shame to remain completely reticent about such atrocities being perpetrated by a tyrannical regime on the least among us.

    For thirty pieces of silver, a job in the civil service, a scholarship for a relative, an apartment that no occupant will ever own, most people turn a blind eye to acts of evil. By doing this, we give succor to the oppressor.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2
    • out of south city
      December 4, 2023

      You could not have said it better. You always write true statements and I’m always in support of your comments. Keep on educating the masses, my brother.
      HOTEP (peace)

    • December 4, 2023

      He did not give a day to day evaluation of the governing of Dominica but rather an analysis of the justice system in Dominica which needs improvement beginning on you, Ibo. Stop hating on Skerrit and get on with your mundane life. Do you realize how boring and monotonous you sound? Record yourself and do a rerun,

  13. L C Matthew
    December 3, 2023

    Dominica needs an administrative purge, some decontamination, reorganization and restoration. some people who took oaths on Bible to uphold the laws and constitution need to be jailed for a long time.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1
  14. Truth Be Told
    December 3, 2023

    DOMINICANS how did we sit back and allow our government to destroy our legal system and our beloved country? Why have we allowed it to get so bad? Dominicans wake up from your political slumber and stop allowing our country to be destroyed for the love of a Prime Minister and his political party!
    Dominica is all of us, justice is for all of us, and when they are destroyed we are all losers no matter what political party we support! Put love of country before love for PM and party! After God is Dominica, not PM Skerritt or Melissa or Labour party, but Dominica! Aprés Bon Dieu C’est La Terre.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1
  15. Joan
    December 3, 2023

    The only rule that is carried out is when you want to go to get a paper signed by oath or enter government building you must have long sleeve

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1
  16. Lawyer
    December 3, 2023

    I agree with Justice Williams but I would go even further and say that Dominicas Judiciary is an absolute joke and the same applies to the Dominica Prosecution Service.
    I also agree with one of the lawyers when he states that the major problems is that there is no separation of power in Dominica anymore. To a certain extend the court system but most certainly the Prosecution Service and the Police Force are in the pocket of the PM. This is an extremely dangerous situation for the country and its citizens. The only way to rectify that is the swift removal of the ‘man in charge’ and some key ministers. Dominicans wake up!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1
  17. Ash in the Wind
    December 2, 2023

    Where is Lil clown, ds and point and those other Red Rats? They must be asleep covered under their sheets of blackness.

    Those who stand for the truth in the face of adversity shall be shielded and blessed. Those who harbor falsehood and lies shall reap a whirlwind of the same. Dominica is under an exceedingly burdensome Curse. Witchcraft and the worshipping of the evil one is the order of the day. No laws, no justice, no moral and conscience. It’s like the “Curse of France.”

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1
  18. Rose
    December 2, 2023

    Finally someone has bravely spoken the absolute truth of an ongoing issue. only wish there were others in the other sectors to point out the blatant deficiencies

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0
  19. out of south city
    December 2, 2023

    After reading this piece, all I could do was to shake my head. When those who are supposed to uphold the law are the ones violating it then we can’t expect anything better. When murderes and pedophiles are getting away with such vicious crimes due to lawyers accepting bail money, what should we expect? These lawyers have blood on their hands. What does the sitting prime minister has to say about what’s going on in the land? Mentally ill people in prison? Are we back in slavery days? When I read about the prime minister and his parliamentarians getting raises while those who really deserve a raise are not important, what does that tell you? My people, OPEN YOUR EYES and see what’s really going on. Seems like the poor has no headway in Dominica and those who are in power care less. In my entire life, this is the worse I have seen in this country. Jimmy Cliff well said “the rich gets richer and the poor gets poore, suffering in the land.” SHAME. SHAME, SHAME!!!!
    UNAPOLOGETIC

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1
  20. Gerald La Touche JP, Magistrate UK.
    December 2, 2023

    This was my assessment back in 2009 of the state of the dispensation of justice and the judiciary in the Commonwealth of Dominica. Sad to read that it has worsened and deteriorated so drastically and profoundly since! https://www.thedominican.net/2009/10/justice-must-be-seen-to-be-done.html

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1
  21. Ibo France
    December 2, 2023

    This article is a damning indictment of not only the judicial system but also of the public service and overall governance of the country.

    After the newly appointed judge’s scathing assessment of the magistrate and high courts, can any rational person consider Dominica to be a real country? As the judge asserted, no where else has he experienced the level of disarray and mayhem as in Dominica’s court system.

    I feel vindicated by the judge’s withering appraisal of the local judiciary which fittingly describes the entire public service. I have been excoriated by those zealous supporters of the governing DLP.

    After seeing the many blunders, the corrupt practices, the gross incompetence, the scathing reports by the experts of the court, penal system, healthcare, et cetera, then those people need brain surgery.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 60 Thumb down 3
  22. December 2, 2023

    Since this DLP mal-administration took over the reign of power of this country their mantra has been, divide and rule; mediocrity and inefficiency, beginning from the top down. It is little wonder that the justice system is suffering; and crime has manifested it’s self as the norm in our once tranquil society. The silence of our lawyers is so loud that the gods of law and order are pondering as to the future of our country. Thanks your Lordship for speaking truth to power and there is not a damn thing that Ag Levi or the “Starboy of Stupidity” can do about it.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 60 Thumb down 3
  23. Zandoli
    December 2, 2023

    My good man, you are wasting your breath. After you made these observations, sadly, nothing will change.
    I have said this here probably 100 times: it is no accident that poor countries remain poor with little chance of them rising out of poverty. These are countries where mediocrity is the order of the day. You get people in authority making all kinds of speeches, using a lot of buzzwords and in the end there is no improvement.
    People go to work and the only duty they think they have is to show up. There are no standards to uphold, no goal setting, no yardsticks by which there are measured. They just go through the motion and repeat the cycle.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 54 Thumb down 3

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